The Rogers Family may have started their family business in the heart of San Francisco but they made a strategic move east to Lincoln, like so many of us here, to escape the crowds and cost of living in the Bay Area. “My biggest priority is increasing consumer knowledge about who we are and what we do, mostly about why a company called San Francisco Bay Coffee is in a Sacramento suburb!” commented third generation Laura Rogers.
Now the company’s first director of marketing, Laura is the eldest of the next generation entering the business. With brother Kyle, the two, along with their parents, uncles, aunt and cousins, are taking the business into its 40th year.
In 1978 Laura’s grandfather John, a former VP at Revlon, had been offered a new job in California. After relocating the family from the East Coast, the job didn’t pan out. Confronted with providing for his family in a new state, John fulfilled a lifelong dream of self-employment by purchasing East India Coffee & Tea, famous at the time for its cinnamon orange tea. “Whoever had their driver’s license at the time was in charge of delivering the coffee,” joked Laura, “but we all pitched in where we could.”
In 2008, the move to Lincoln proved to be a winner, professionally and personally. Now the business, headed by second generation Peter Rogers, the youngest of John and wife Barbara’s four children, has its inventory, research, marketing and production facilities and employees under one roof. That closeness facilitates the relationships between product development and innovation, Peter’s passion; sales and customer relations, managed by Peter’s brothers, sister, niece and nephew; and marketing. It also brings forward opportunities for interpersonal improvement, which is why the family values its membership with FBC.
Said Laura, “It’s always helpful to talk to other people in family businesses. Working with family is amazing but there are also struggles. Other FBC members experience those same struggles and triumphs.”
Although founder John, now retired at age 86, and his children experienced a seamless transfer of leadership, the family knows that work is in their future to include the next generation that is now coming of age.
Of the company’s almost 40-year history, Laura is most proud of the business’ social programs on behalf of the farmers that have been in the family’s lives for decades. Years ago, her father noticed a roasting problem with beans harvested in Guatemala. He made the trip to the farm and immediately discovered a country riddled by poverty. Then and there, the family made the decision to cut out the ‘middle men’ and purchase, above market price, directly from their farmers. The family has also built medical centers, is about to complete its sixtieth school and recently brought water and electricity to the villages surrounding a farm in Rwanda.
The company has also been at the forefront of the compostable single-use coffee pod. As of now, their pods are certified for industrial compost. But the company’s goal is to be 100% marine compostable, which is Peter’s primary task. Remarked Laura, “My dad has a passion for the science behind the product. With his guidance, sharing an office with my mom, and now having my brother home and working with us, I’m so excited for the future.”