BY KATHY KANE
Bob Fish, president and CEO of East Lansing-based Biggby Coffee, recently spoke to the Southern Wayne County Chamber of Commerce at a new business forum held at Crystal Gardens. The group of more than 120 business people and students came from all over the southeastern Michigan area to hear what Fish had to say.
Biggby Coffee is the largest coffee franchisor in Michigan, with 255 locations. Fish originated the store concept with co-president and CEO partner, Michael McFall at Michigan State University in Lansing.
“We exist to love people, have fun and drink GREAT coffee,” said Fish. “I like that you have a cool name like Downriver, we also believe in cool names and actually name our coffee. My favorite is the Teddy Bear Latte which has caramel and our secret, white lightning.”
In 1995, the duo started pitching their plan and got nine “no’s” on financing a coffee store. When they got a “yes” on the 10th business plan, they hit the ground running with a boost from their extra special caffeine combos. In their unique operation, every single Biggby is franchised and every store takes on branding their store to fit the very personal personalities of their operators.
Students at the event had an opportunity to ask Fish questions, such as, “What is your secret to success?” Fish answered with, “Make a plan and stick to it! Be authentic, give back, don’t be afraid of change, even if you have to change your name brand (which they did) and have plenty of courage.”