There is truly something magical about the Hub Coffee. Just being in the shop, I could always tell that there was something amazing about this place. A UPS truck playing his music loudly, people speaking of stocks next to a kid being interviewed for his dream job. If you were to walk into something like the Hub, you would become convinced that the people, streets, lights, everything, was quite possibly a figment of your imagination. A set to the movie about a utopia that worked in the end.
This place always brought me a pause of wonder. Who made this amazing menagerie of the human experience?
In walks Mark Trujillo, founder and owner of The Hub Coffee Roasters. This is his interview, and we wanted to take this time for him to teach us something that he is amazing at: Culture.
Mark has a lot of insightful opinions on what culture is, when you should build culture, and how to maintain culture properly. Mark and I talked about culture a lot, and to him, it is the most important thing there is.
“Employees are first, customers second, and coffee third.”
Mark and I talked for what felt like hours, about opinions and facts, experiences that he has had in business, and to him what felt like the most important things
To explain Mark’s philosophy on how to organize a company from the bottom up, it’s a good idea to look at what his logo means. He explained, in detail, how everybody on his staff is like a spoke in a wheel. If even one spoke is bent, the whole wheel will begin to wobble off center. It takes a lot of persuasion, love, and care to get that spoke back into center.
- Focus on employees right from the beginning of you company. Be kind, forgiving, and there for them as a business owner when they need you.
- Train them, personally if you need to, but make sure they feel comfortable coming to you with questions inside and outside of the normal training time new employees go through.
- He did always say it went back to the training, and his staff agreed.
- Be happy and energetic
- During the interview, and I am not making this up, he said hi to every employee that walked in for work. Even though he was busy, he made sure to put them first.
- Come into work
- Mark even puts himself on the schedule at all his locations, as if he is also an employee.
- Understand that employees are people, not money makers.
- He prides himself in giving his staff the skills they need to move on from The Hub.
Mark spoke about how The Hub isn’t really about coffee at all, and that’s true even in their mission statement:
“Our Higher Purpose: We exist to bring people together.”
He told me that he wants to make a place for people to meet, for family’s to talk, he even told me that one location has hosted two weddings because that’s where the couple had their first date. He has this mentality that coffee is so secondary to what his business is actually about, its one true focus: people.
- Realize it always starts with employees.
- Small businesses have a huge advantage over big business in this regard. With smaller clientele, you can make each transaction feel special and interesting.
- After this interview, the staff now knows my order. That’s the power of small business.
- Build a mission statement that includes your customer and live by that statement.
- The Hub Coffee Roasters has theirs on their site, in big, bold, red letters.
Mark currently has somewhere in the 500 range of reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and ect. Scoring an amazing 4.8 or higher on most channels, but he still gets annoyed with some reviews on his pages, specifically when it comes to product.
The Hub Coffee Roasters run a lot like In and Out. There’s a limited menu, no added sugar, no whip cream. He says it hurts sometimes when he sees a yelp review that complains about him not using sugary syrups or pumping his coffee full of unnecessary flavor. He attributed the question “What do you think is the hardest part of running business” to this dilemma of wanting new customers, but not at the detriment of what he is good at: making coffee.
He explained that his product isn’t for everyone, and he’s okay with that, but that he wants to be the best at what he does and that won’t change.
Later, a day after the interview, I went back to the Hub and talked to a worker there. I asked him what he thought of some of the things Mark said about product and quality control, this is what he told me:
“Mark is really inspiring, he goes all the way to the plantation sometimes and shakes the man’s hand that he buys beans from. The beans I grind, roast, and prepare into the coffee that you get to drink have had so many amazing people touch them to help create just one bean. It is up to me, at the very end of the process, not to mess that taste up for our customers.”
- Ask yourself, who truly is my customer and what are their wants
- Mark and his team don’t want people who would rather drink Starbucks, he wants people who like the taste of pure true coffee.
- Don’t focus on the competition, focus on what makes your company unique, and be the best at that. This is called an “unfair competitive advantage”
- Mark told me he set out to be the taste of Reno Coffee. When he was traveling for work at a corporate job, he always asked what coffee was local. He strives to be the answer to that question at Reno Tahoe International Airport.
- Set out to build something great, that has meaning and value intangible to its parts, and market it in a way that makes sense to your consumer.
- In the employees that work at the hub, you can see that this means a lot more than some simple coffee beans. To them, it is a spiritual endeavor and a connection to a person that is a lot more than words.