Bios of Key People
- Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s Co-Owner and Founding Partner
- Paul Saginaw, Zingerman’s Co-Owner and Founding Partner
- Alex Young, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Roadhouse
- Amy Emberling, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Bakehouse
- Aubrey Thomason, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Creamery
- Charlie Frank, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory
- Frank Carollo, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Bakehouse
- Grace Singleton, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
- Ji Hye Kim, Managing Partner, Miss Kim
- Kieron Hales, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms
- Maggie Bayless, Managing Partner, ZingTrain
- Mo Frechette, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
- Tom Root, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
- Toni Morell, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
- Rick Strutz, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
- Rodger Bowser, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
- Steve Mangigian, Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Coffee Company
Zingerman’s Co-Owner & Founding Partner
Ari moved to Ann Arbor from his hometown of Chicago to attend the University of Michigan. After graduating with a degree in Russian history, he went to work washing dishes in a local restaurant and soon discovered that he loved the food business. Along with his partner Paul Saginaw, Ari started Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982 with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods and a relatively short sandwich menu. Today, Zingerman’s is an Ann Arbor institution—the source of great food and great experiences for over 500,000 visitors every year. Each day the Deli serves up thousands of made-to-order sandwiches with ingredients like corned beef and pastrami, homemade chopped liver and chicken salad. The Deli stocks an array of farmhouse cheeses, smoked fish, salamis, estate-bottled olive oils, vintage vinegars, whole bean coffees, loose leaf teas and much more. Ari and Paul have built Zingerman’s into an organization with a 500+ staff and annual sales approaching $40,000,000 a year.
Ari is involved in many educational activities. He has served as a board member and president of The American Cheese Society and as a board member of the Retail Division of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. He is a frequent guest speaker in business classes at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, as well as at various food and business conferences in this country and abroad including the American Institute of Wine and Food, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, the Gathering of Games, and the NASFT Fancy Food Show.
In 1988 Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a perishable food rescue program, and continues to be a major supporter of the organization. Every year Food Gatherers delivers over a million pounds of food to people in need. Ari has also served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously-operating folk music venue in America. In April of 1995, Ari and Paul received the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award for their community contributions. Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the 2006 James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry.
Ari has written over 250 issues of the Zingerman’s newsletter, and has contributed to such magazines as Fine Cooking, Specialty Foods, Gourmet Retailer, and Food and Wine. He has received praise for his books: Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Olive Oil, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Vinegar, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Parmigiano Reggiano, Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service as well as his Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading series, which includes four volumes. His latest is Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business, which was released in the summer of 2016.
Zingerman’s Co-Owner & Founding Partner
Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig joined forces, to found Zingerman’s Delicatessen, and opened the doors on March 15, 1982. All they wanted at that time was a great corned beef sandwich and an organization with soul.
Zingerman’s started as 1300 square feet of combined restaurant and specialty food retail space, run solely by Paul, Ari and two employees. The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses now has 23 partners, employs over 750 people and generates over $60 million in annual sales from ten separate businesses: Zingerman’s Delicatessen (including Zingerman’s Catering), Zingerman’s Mail Order, Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Zingerman’s Training Inc., Zingerman’s Coffee Company, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Zingerman’s Creamery, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory, Zingerman’s Corn Man Farms, and Miss Kim.
Paul believes that he has been successful in spite of the fact that he has limited natural talent and abilities because he has always thought that the only real limits are those of vision.
Position/Title: Chief Spiritual Officer, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses
Education: BS Zoology, U of M 1976 (after an 7 year undergraduate career)
Bon Appetite: Lifetime Achievement Award
White House: “Champion of Change” award 2014
University of Michigan: Honorary Doctorate of Laws 2015
Kissed Bonnie Raitt backstage after a concert.
University of Michigan commencement speaker Spring 2015
Other Business Affiliations:
- Director – Priority Health
- Past Director – United Bank & Trust – Washtenaw
- Past Board Director – Dawn Farms
- Past Board President – Washtenaw Housing Alliance (2000-2007)
- Founder/ Food Gatherers (1988), Board Director 1988-2012, Director Emeritus
- Past Board President – NEW Center (2001-2008)
- Past Board Director – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (2003-2013)
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Roadhouse
Chef Alex Young was born in London, England and moved at a young age with his family to San Francisco, CA. At the age of 17 and with no professional culinary training, Young moved to New York City and got his first job cooking for The Central Falls Roadshow, which catered to feature films and music videos such as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street starring Michael Douglas as well as several video shoots for Madonna. In the years since, Young helped open New York’s China Grill with Mako Tenaka, worked with Chef Reed Heron (of Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe) at San Francisco’s Corona Bar and Grill, and relocated to London, England, to work at Portabella Road restaurant, The First Floor, as Executive Chef. His work eventually too him to the Hilton Worldwide, where he was Corporate Chef of Hilton’s Restaurant Group.
In 1997, a mutual friend introduced Young to Zingerman’s co-founders Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, and in 2001 they decided to open a restaurant together. Zingerman’s Roadhouse opened its doors on September 15, 2003, and is dedicated to bringing food-loving folks really good American food. In 2010, Alex was featured on Alton Brown’s Food Network show Best of and his macaroni and cheese was declared the Best Comfort Food in America. In 2011, Alex was named the Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region by the James Beard Foundation.
Chef Alex Young and company focus on using the very best available ingredients. The menu includes an extensive seafood selection with a wide variety of oysters from the East, West and Gulf coasts. The Roadhouse also features produce grown at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms by Alex and his crew, as well as meat from animals raised at Cornman and from neighboring farms in Washtenaw County.
“The quality of the ingredients affects the quality of the food,” said Young, “and we are really interested in sustainable food production that preserves the environment while producing superior flavor.”
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Bakehouse
Amy has been an avid food lover and baker since her childhood in Nova Scotia, Canada where she often treated friends to after-school concoctions. She grew up in a family business and always hoped to have her own business one day.
Amy received her bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Harvard College and learned to cook and bake at L’École de Gastronomie Française at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and she received her MBA from Columbia University in 1999. Amy has lived with her husband Geoff and children Jake and Ruby in France and Denmark and has traveled extensively.
Amy came to Zingerman’s Bakehouse when it opened in 1992 as one of the original bakers on the staff of eight. She was the first manager of the bread department, then the manager of the pastry department, and in 2000, she became co-managing partner along with Bakehouse founder, Frank Carollo. Amy has worked in the food world for over two decades and is passionate about baking, teaching and providing a work environment that fosters growth and development. A few of the Bakehouse treats she has personally developed are the Old School Apple Pie, Buenos Aires Brownies, and Gingerbread Coffeecake.
In addition to her work at the Bakehouse, Amy also teaches seminars for ZingTrain in two seminars: Leading with Zing and Bottom Line Training. She is also one of the partners of Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory (with Charlie Frank), which was developed in the bakery.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Creamery
Aubrey has the distinction of being the first Zingerman’s managing partner born and raised in the Ann Arbor Area! She grew up in Ypsilanti as one of 10 children, and began he career in food early, starting work in restaurants, delis and grocery stores at the age of 14. She soon found her way to Zingerman’s Deli in 2002, starting in the retail department.
It wasn’t too long before Aubrey discovered that she had a profound passion for cheese, which naturally led to a position at the Zingerman’s Creamery in 2007 cheese production assistant. Through the next few years, Aubrey rose in the ranks, and was made Creamery managing partner (along with Creamery founder, John Loomis) in 2012. Aubrey’s goal is to eventually have her very own farm and produce high quality sheep’s milk to supply the Creamery for cheesemaking.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory
Charlie Frank is a Michigan native, hailing from Romeo, north of Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan, then went on to obtain a degree from The Culinary Institute of America (class of ‘89). Charlie is a self-professed candy-lover, and working with sugar has always been a key component of every job he’s had.
Charlie originally worked at Zingerman’s Deli, before devoting some time to traveling the world: Philippines, old Hong Kong, Thailand, Nepal, France, and China. In 2001, he returned to Zingerman’s, this time at the Bakehouse. And it was while managing the pastry department that he reignited his passion for sweet things, and soon began to experiment with the prototype for the Original Zzang! Bar. From the beginning, it was his intent create a candy-making business at Zingerman’s, and in August 2009 that dream was realized with the founding Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Bakehouse
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1976 with a bioengineering degree, Frank Carollo went to work as the kitchen manager in a local restaurant, where he met Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw. Frank stayed at the restaurant after Ari and Paul left to start Zingerman’s, moving up to become General Manager. Frank later joined Paul as a partner in Monahan’s Seafood Market.
In 1992, Frank was ready for a new challenge, and Zingerman’s was looking to develop an in-house source for the Delicatessen’s bread. After many long discussions, a great deal of research, and in-depth training from master baker Michael London, Zingerman’s Bakehouse was opened in the fall of 1992, with Frank in charge of the day-to-day operations.
Today, Zingerman’s Bakehouse employs a staff of 80 and supplies over 100 wholesale customers with artisanal bread and pastries. Every loaf is formed by hand, proofed for optimal flavor development and baked in one of two stone hearth ovens. Zingerman’s Bakehouse also offers a spectacular selection of pastries, made with real butter, Madagascar vanilla and farm fresh eggs. In the fall of 2001, Zingerman’s Bakehouse introduced delicious, crusty bagels to their morning line-up, thrilling traditionalists who had despaired of ever again getting a bagel with crunch.
The Bakehouse is located in an industrial park on Ann Arbor’s south side that was never intended as a retail destination. However, soon after the Bakehouse opened, people saw the trucks parked outside and come in to buy a loaf of really fresh bread. Now the retail space that began as a folding table in the corner next to the bread oven is a store in its own right, Zingerman’s Bakeshop, with revenues approaching a million dollars a year.
As Managing Partner of the Bakehouse, Frank sees his role as doing whatever it takes – lots of baking, lots of talking, lots of teaching, lots of selling and always a focus on customer service. In March of 1997, Frank was named one of five noteworthy bakers in America by Metropolitan Home magazine. Frank teaches a variety of internal classes on customer service and management and is a frequently requested presenter for outside organizations.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Grace knew from the beginning that she was destined for a life full of food. Initially, she dreamed of becoming a glamorous chef on a cruise ship, but Zingerman’s changed all of that. She received her culinary degree at Paul Smith’s College in New York and managed restaurants across Ohio and Michigan, including the Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor. Grace became a fan of Zingerman’s Delicatessen while working as General Manager of the Gandy Dancer.
When the opportunity came, she moved into the Zingerman’s Deli which she described as “the very best job in the food industry.” As Grace says, “one full-flavor led to another,” and in 2004 she stepped up from Retail Manager to managing partner at the Deli
She currently shares responsibility for Deli operations with partners Rick Strutz (elevated from Deli Restaurant Manager in 2007) and Rodger Bowser (elevated from Deli Chef in 2010). If you stop by the Deli early in the morning, you just might spot Grace sipping from a press pot of the latest roaster’s pick from Zingerman’s Coffee Company and munching a slice of the Pain de Montagne bread with a schmear of Vermont butter and chestnut honey.
Ji Hye Kimtop
Managing Partner, Miss Kim
Ji Hye Kim grew up in Korea eating and enjoying her mother’s homemade food. Her mother was known as the best cook in the Kim clan and the extended family celebrated holidays together by cooking big meals together from scratch. Ji Hye emigrated to the States at the age of 13, and settled in New Jersey.
She comes from a long line of restaurant owners, and put herself through college by waiting tables. After graduating from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, she spent a few years in the health care and insurance industries. Eventually, her passion for food and desire for community lead her back to her first love, the restaurant business.
Ji Hye spent three years in management roles at Zingerman’s Delicatessen before stepping onto the entrepreneurial path with a traditional Korean street food venture, San Street Food. Over the next four years, Ji Hye focused on building the street food business, expanding her entrepreneurial knowledge and experience, and thinking about the future of the business. As part of her ongoing development, she worked with Chef Alex Young at Zingerman’s Roadhouse and traveled extensively.
In early 2015, Ji Hye’s time spent on the Zingerman’s path-to-partnership culminated with her becoming a managing partner. Her restaurant Miss Kim opened in Downtown Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown neighborhood in late 2016, serving food and drink rooted in tradition and adapted to the here and now. All dishes are made from scratch with local ingredients whenever possible—Miss Kim works with local farmer to build a menu that changes seasonally.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms
Kieron Hales grew up in the small farming village of Stoke Gabriel in Devon, England. He studied the bassoon as a child, and was a member of National Children’s Orchestra. While he was attending music school, his home economics teacher, Mrs. Williams, noticed his passion for cooking and sent an application on his behalf to the Specialized Chefs School in Bournemouth. After successfully passing the admission requirements, he began four years of studies, graduating at 17. The ceremony was held at the Guild of Butchers Hall in London, and upon graduation Kieron became a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
Hales’ culinary experience is extensive, beginning with an apprenticeship under Chef Stephan Goodlad at Coq D’Argent in London. He then embarked on a career that took him around the globe, working in 1- and 2-star Michelin Star restaurants in Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Austria. Throughout his career, his interest in the history of food evolved into a desire to gain a better understanding of where and how food is produced. Specifically, Kieron began to develop a passion for traditional foodways, canning, jarring, and farming. In 2008, he emigrated to the U.S. to work for Zingerman’s. He began as sous chef at Zingerman’s Roadhouse under the tutelage of James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef Alex Young, quickly rising to become head chef. He held this position until July of 2013 when he began his transition to Cornman Farms.
Cornman Farms was originally conceived by Chef Alex Young, who began by planting tomatoes intended for use at the Roadhouse. He soon realized the potential for a working farm to bring fresh, field-grown produce, milk, and meat to his restaurant. When the opportunity came to buy a neighboring historic farm, complete with house and barn, Alex immediately saw the potential to expand the farm, and provide a venue for events, dinners, as well as an opportunity to show guests exactly where their food comes from.
In 2010, Kieron attended the Creating a Vision of Greatness seminar at ZingTrain and penned his first vision for a role as managing partner of Cornman Farms. After numerous drafts (probably 25 or 30), and sharing his vision with many people, Kieron began his path to partnership. In May of 2014, Cornman Farms opened its doors as the 9th Zingerman’s business, with Kieron Hales as managing partner.
Managing Partner, ZingTrain
Maggie Bayless has been associated with Zingerman’s since the Deli opened its doors in 1982. Back then, as a student in the University of Michigan’s MBA program, she left at 4:00 AM every Saturday to drive to the Detroit suburbs and collect the bread needed to make the Deli’s world-famous sandwiches. According to Maggie, “After a week of dealing with business theory, it was great to get behind the wheel of the bread truck. I’d spend my day loading and unloading bread, selling cheese, and helping make a brand new business successful. I’d collapse into bed on Saturday night – physically exhausted but ready to face school again on Monday morning.”
Maggie originally moved to Ann Arbor in 1979 after graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in German Literature, and spending two years working in a Chicago bank. Her first job in Ann Arbor was as a server in a restaurant, where she met Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, founders of Zingerman’s. After graduating from Michigan’s MBA program, she worked for General Motors before joining American Natural Beverage (maker of Soho Natural Soda), as Midwest Regional Sales Manager. In 1988, she helped Zingerman’s computerize their inventory and product costing systems, while working full-time as project manager and instructional designer for Arbor Systems Group. At Arbor Systems, and later on a freelance basis, Maggie managed the development of training courses for corporate clients that included IBM, NCR, and the Ford Motor Company.
In 1994, Maggie decided to partner with her old pals from Zingerman’s, and Zingerman’s Training, Inc. (a.k.a. ZingTrain) was born. ZingTrain acts as “keeper of the corporate knowledge” within the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, helping Zingerman’s managers improve their departmental training. In addition, ZingTrain shares Zingerman’s expertise with outside clients through seminars, consulting services and customized training. ZingTrain’s clients include specialty food retailers, as well as organizations from many other industries, including banking, real estate, health care, manufacturing and non-profits.
Maggie regularly leads Zingerman’s staff Train-the-Trainer classes, facilitates ZingTrain seminars and presents to outside clients. Her “Staff Training” column was a regular feature in Gourmet Retailer magazine for many years.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
Mo founded Zingerman’s Mail Order in 1994. Zingerman’s Mail Order is the online shop for Zingerman’s, featuring a selection of foods from Zingerman’s food makers and artisan producers from all over the world. Mail Order produces 15 print catalogs each year and fulfills orders for nationwide delivery from its warehouse on the south side of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The business has 75 employees (400 during the holiday season) and annual revenue of $15 million.
Mo directs the online and print catalog product selection, editorial writing, website design and all aspects of the business look and feel. He also directs the company’s financial and marketing strategies. Mo received his MBA from the Ross School of business at the University of Michigan.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Rick grew up on a small farm in Wisconsin and spent his formative years milking cows and contemplating a career as a professional skier before pursuing an architecture and engineering degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
He soon discovered that his passion was food, and leapt headlong into that world. He became consultant to start-up food businesses, and his experiences took him across the American geographical and culinary landscape. Rick worked with everyone from the owners of lone hot dog stands to big city, high-roller steak houses with just about every variation in between.
Rick came to the Zingerman’s Deli in 2002 as Deli Restaurant Manager and later joined Grace Singleton as co-managing partner in 2007. The Deli’s partnership team was rounded out with the addition of Deli Chef in 2010. You can usually find Rick on the floor of the Deli, or at his “office” –Table 24 in Zingerman’s Next Door coffee house.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
Tom Root grew up near Youngstown, OH with a passion for business and entrepreneurship. After graduating from Miami University in 1993, he became a certified business counselor for the state of Michigan, advising entrepreneurs on business plan development and capital acquisition through the SBA’s Small Business Development Center program. Tom specialized in computer and software start-ups, and at the same time ran a consulting company to advise clients on website development.
In January of 1995 Tom became the first employee of Online Technologies Corporation, where he was Director of Development and Training. Over the next year he taught weekly classes through Walsh College and led the development of over 100 websites. During one of his teaching sessions, Tom was introduced to a team of people who had been charged with the creation of a website for a Michigan public electric utility, Detroit Edison. By February 1996 Tom was the principal web application developer for Detroit Edison. During his three years at Edison he managed a budget of over $1 million per year and organized a team of seven to create and manage Edison’s eight external web sites and its 50,000 page intranet.
In January of 1999, while attending a food conference in San Francisco with his wife Toni Morrell (then a manager at Zingerman’s Delicatessen), Tom struck upon the idea for a Zingerman’s website and began the process of becoming a Zingerman’s managing partner. On September 22, 1999 Zingermans.com took its first order, and Tom took on his first official role at Zingerman’s as Chief Information Officer. During the next two years he introduced Zingerman’s to email, established a wide area network, connecting all the various Zingerman’s locations and managed Zingermans.com (with lots of help from Toni!)
In 2002 Zingerman’s Mail Order and Zingermans.com merged and Tom took on the role of controller of the resulting business (known simply as Zingerman’s Mail Order). As controller, Tom has championed open book management and taken the lead on educating staff about the financial ins and outs of the business.
Tom teaches a number of internal staff classes for Zingerman’s employees and is also a frequent presenter for outside organizations. No doubt due to his technology background, Tom is the only Zingerman’s managing partner who routinely chooses to use PowerPoint.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order
Toni grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and studied at Youngstown State University, where she received a BBA and served as president for the university chapter of the American Marketing Association. After graduation Toni managed at several retail stores before joining the Zingerman’s team in July of 1996 as Manager/Purchaser in the retail department of Zingerman’s Delicatessen. She has always had a passion for food and business.
Since joining Zingerman’s, Toni sights were set on becoming a managing partner in a new Zingerman’s business. In the spring of 1999, she realized that goal when she and her partner, Tom Root, launched Zingermans.com, the Zingerman’s online catalog. In 2002 Zingerman’s Mail Order and Zingermans.com merged and became known simply as Zingerman’s Mail Order, which sells and fulfills orders of traditional and gourmet foods. Zingerman’s Mail Order has annual sales of $15 million and employs 75 year-round and 400 seasonal employees.
Toni also directs Zingerman’s Food Tours, which hosts customers on behind-the-scenes guided tours of food makers in Europe and America.
Toni has also served many non profits, including the Ann Arbor Education Foundation, Jazzistry, and Ann Arbor Art Center. She is currently 826National’s board president and a board member of the U School. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and business partner (Tom Root) and two sons, Ian and Henry
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Delicatessen
Rodger started his career at Zingerman’s Deli making sandwiches, 15 years later he is one of three managing partners in what has grown into a $12 million, 187 employee business that Mario Batali calls “a national treasure.” Besides spearheading the food coming out of the Deli’s kitchens as Head Chef, Rodger also leads all Purchasing and Marketing operations. Rodger has been instrumental in profitably introducing local, small-farm produce into the Deli’s daily operations and streamlining a very complex buying operation that includes at least several nations and over 5000 products.
Before Zingerman’s Deli, Rodger trained at Chez Panisse and Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. Rodger combines his passion for food and Zingerman’s commitment to the community by serving as an active board member on several non-profit organizations that are shaping the food system in Michigan, such as the Food System Economic Partnership, Ann Arbor’s Westside Farmer’s Market, and The Agrarian Adventure.
When not working with or on food, Rodger spends time with his wife and children and indulges his other passion, amateur bike racing. Rodger has been racing for over a decade now and runs the Ann Arbor Velo Club’s masters team.
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Coffee Company
After growing up in Philadelphia, Steve has spent most of his adult life in Ann Arbor. He has held a number of positions in a variety of industries (from wholesale to retail), including holding a positions as a National Product Manager for a company that sold industrial photographic darkroom equipment as well as being Director of Operations for a local retail electronics/appliance chain. He has an undergraduate degree in Management and Organizational Development as well as an MBA.
Steve wouldn’t have guessed that he would end up being a business owner in the coffee industry–when he had his first cup of coffee at age 19, he disliked it so much that he couldn’t swallow it. However, when he found his way to the Zingerman’s Coffee Company in 2006, filling the role as sales manager, his passion, knowledge and love for coffee grew. In this role, Steve quickly saw that the Coffee Company could grow by expanding its channels of distribution. During this period of building the business, Steve discovered that the culture, work environment, and values so closely aligned with his own that he decided to fulfill his dream of being an owner in 2008.
Steve is involved in every aspect of the business from sourcing to roasting to building the wholesale base of customers. He travels to origin regularly, building relationships with producers. In order to build the business, Steve travels to potential wholesale customers to evaluate sales opportunities and to provide training and support to existing customers. He also participates in a number of Zingerman’s Partner’s Group committees.
Steve compares the structure of our organization to a “shopping” experience, so to speak, for any number of “satisfiers/needs.” We can stroll down aisle one and pick up some personal satisfaction. Down aisle two is ample gain-share and opportunity for those that are driven. Aisle three carries healthy peer relationships, and on and on. Ultimately, when we “check out”, we have in our shopping cart all the ingredients of a satisfactory and fulfilling work experience. This applies to employees at all levels of the organization, as there is no limit to the opportunities to forge a fulfilling work experience.
The chance to create opportunities for staff to learn and grow was a big motivator for Steve in becoming a partner, as he strongly believes in servant leadership. The principle of which is that leaders must serve those who choose to follow, not the other way around, as is the case in many organizations. One trip to the Coffee Company, seeing Steve interact with his employees and guests, shows that he lives this.
Steve is also active in a range of activities in the community. He shares his business knowledge through his service with Nexecon Consulting, a University of Michigan business school student consulting group. He also serves on the Washtenaw Community College advisory board and participates in WCC’s School of Business, teaching Business Management for over 4 years. He also serves as a board member for Habitat for Humanity.