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WNC Business

Importance of relationships in business

May 22, 2024 09:12AM ● By Randee Brown

Just as Andy Gibbon began homebrewing before working professionally in the beer industry, he began roasting coffee for himself at home before starting his business — Dynamite Roasting Company — because no one in town was roasting their own coffee beans. Since coffee is very susceptible to oxidation which changes its flavor quickly after roasting, he was impressed with how different of a product he was getting with his freshly-roasted beans, even compared to a high-end café.

Seeing the need for the product, Gibbon began Dynamite Roasting without a business background, but with a lot of passion and late nights. The business started as a café with a roasting machine in the middle of the shop. Customers enjoying their coffee would see the roasting beans and purchase a bag to take home, which became a hit with people in the area. 

Having created friendly relationships within their café, the wholesale element eventually required an industrial roasting machine, a larger space, and additional employees. Dynamite Roasting now roasts about 260,000 pounds of green coffee beans each year with the help of 15 employees. 

Engaging with local small businesses, restaurants, and cafés, the relationships that were built impacted the level of growth for Dynamite Roasting.

“These folks are just like me — small business owners with a passion for what they are doing,” Gibbons said. “They are experts in what they do, and we are experts in what we do, and we can work together to have everyone end up in a good place in their business.”

Local business relationships have fostered collaborative opportunities for Gibbons. Highland Brewing Company released Nutz & Voltz, which is a porter with toasted coconut and Dynamite coffee. They have also worked with Hi Wire Brewing on collaborations in the past. 

“It’s all about relationships, really,” Gibbons said. “When it comes down to it, if everyone can benefit from what we’re doing, everyone’s business can be sustainable.”

Relationship-building is a key component in Dynamite’s product sourcing as well. Gibbons travels internationally, including coffee-growing destinations like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sumatra, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, and more. He said the farmers he visits are just as passionate about their product and their livelihood as the roasters, baristas, and coffee drinkers.

“It’s a thread that connects us all,” Gibbons said. 

Establishing regular relationships with their growers guarantees a steady revenue stream for them, as well as a steady supply of quality coffee beans for Gibbons. These direct grower-buyer relationships also allow both sides to get away from the regular market and negotiate prices, ensuring a fair wage is paid and farmers are rewarded for extra quality.

The local businesses that purchase wholesale coffee from Dynamite appreciate the close relationships, according to Gibbon. He said Asheville is fiercely local, and businesses in the area give each other lots of support. If someone runs out of their product, it’s possible to hop in the car and drive it over to the purchaser, or help out if someone’s machines are broken down.

More than business transactions, community relationships are an important part of Dynamite’s culture. Gibbons said it’s important for local businesses to engage with supporting organizations, like contributing product for fund drives with WNCW, working with schools for teacher appreciation events, and helping organizations like Bounty & Soul which offer free markets for the community.

“Participation with these organizations and events is huge for our community,” Gibbons said. “It’s not national brands that help buy jerseys for local sports teams.”

While relationship-building has allowed Dynamite Roasting to blaze through its five-year plan in two years, they are working to maintain positive growth while keeping their eyes on core values. 

They have been able to say yes to larger corporate accounts, and now have their coffee distributed in various places around the Southeast US. The key, according to Gibbons, has been making sure the business continues to feel good while maintaining product quality and positive relationships. 

“Proper money management and treating your employees right will always be keys to a successful business, but you also have to continue to be interested in what you are doing,” Gibbon said. “Small businesses are made up of a bunch of people passionate about what they do and passionate about their community. Running your business is supposed to be fun. If you enjoy it and you are passionate about it, it all sort of has a way of working out.”