Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Greg Ubert of Crimson Cup

Photo provided by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

The Columbus Chamber and Capital University have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, Columbus-based brand journalist Mikaela Hunt will speak with local business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

Crimson Cup Founder Greg Ubert got some looks when he decided to get out of high-tech and get into coffee. And move back to Columbus from Chicago to do it.

When he started Crimson Cup in 1991, coffee was a vehicle for caffeine.

“The thought process really was, I’m going to have coffee for caffeine and that’s what coffee is good for,” he says.

Twenty eight years later, Crimson Cup is a 75-person operation that provides coffee and more for hundreds of independent coffee shops across 37 states, while operating a handful of its own retail stores in Ohio.

During the podcast, which features a discussion between Ubert and Columbus Chamber President & CEO Don DePerro during a recent CEO Insights event, Ubert discusses how innovation has long-been ingrained in Crimson Cup’s operations.

Ubert says innovating started in the 90s, experimenting with frozen drinks as they became popular later in the decade and resulted in their widely-used polar powder. They’ve perfected their roasting process, along the way too, both in working to find great coffees and formulating roast times.

Crimson Cup has its own Innovation Lab, and Ubert says, “The reason why I opened up our first retail store in Clintonville was because I wanted to test and try things there.”

The retail store came about not because Ubert wanted to eventually open as many as he could, but to test and try products before rolling them out to the other coffee shops that rely on the brand’s training for their shops.

It’s another facet of Crimson Cup’s business that is outlined in Ubert’s book, Seven Steps to Success, that provides a how-to guide for independent coffee shops to be successful.

Ubert shared more advice for business owners during the discussion. His biggest piece of advice for an organization looking to scale? Systematize the business. Look at what the end result should be, and develop systems that yield that.

Listen to the full conversation to hear more about how Ubert knew it was time to trade tech for coffee.

“I kind of came to the conclusion that there was probably about 60% of the people, maybe more, that were really, what I call, disengaged at work,” Ubert says. “They weren’t excited to be there.”

Click here to listen to the full podcast featuring Greg Ubert of Crimson Cup

Ubert also shares more about overcoming those initial coffee for caffeine convos and how some gentle nudges from his father kept him on the coffee path.

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