Fueled By death cast



Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 137 - DOUG SCHNELL

DIRECTOR OF MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS - DOUG SCHNELL

DEATH WISH COFFEE COMPANY EMPLOYEE SERIES #26

"There are kind of four basic tenets of being a servant leader: being there for your people, making people's day, having a little play at work, a little fun, and being there." Doug Schnell, Director of Manufacturing Operations, Death Wish Coffee 

 

PREVIEW:

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ABOUT DOUG SCHNELL:

Doug Schnell joined Death Wish Coffee as Director of Manufacturing Operations a little over 5 months ago as of the recording of episode 137 of the podcast but has quickly become an integral part of the team. Doug joins the show to talk about growing up on a farm and learning to be a servant leader from his father. Doug also talks about studying engineering and working for giant corporations like Pepsi and Starbucks before coming to work at Death Wish, and where he sees the company headed. 

TRANSCRIPT:

Jeff: I want to start off kind of introducing you to our listeners and viewers because, how long have you been here now at Death Wish?

Doug: Approximately five months.

Jeff: Five months. So we have a little bit of a perspective on you, but I want to know what is your title here?

Doug: I am the Director of Manufacturing.

Jeff: Director of Manufacturing. So in five months, your job hasn't really changed that much, but can we walk through kind of what that entails here at Death Wish?

Doug: Sure. We have a manufacturing arm of course, and we produce all the Death Wish Coffee that goes out to wholesale and retail. We do some building of products for Amazon and different entities like that. And we average around 50,000 pounds a week roughly.

Jeff: Wow.

Doug: Yeah.

Jeff: Now speaking on kind of like an industry standard and we are going to get into your history in a minute, but 50,000 pounds a week, is that a good benchmark for a company like us?

Doug: Well, it is for a company that like Death Wish that's really growing quickly, and the interesting thing is from last year to this year, it's almost doubled. So that's a great trajectory to be on.

Jeff: Okay. Okay. And you manage basically everything that goes down at our warehouse, which is growing all the time. How many people around at the world?

Doug: We have 13 full time now and several temps.

Jeff: Which is so incredible because, I mean, when I came on about two and a half years ago, we were breaking into the 20s of employees total, you know? And now we're almost reached 40 I think.

Doug: I think it's at 38 or something like that.

Jeff: Yeah. Which really exciting. So we're still technically a really small company.

Doug: Yeah.

Jeff: So you been in the coffee business before ever even coming to Death Wish.

Doug: Yes.

Jeff: Can we talk a little bit about your history?

Doug: Sure.

Jeff: When did you start in the coffee business?

Doug: I entered the coffee business right around 2001, and I went to work for Starbucks Coffee Company out in Seattle. And so initially my career was in engineering. So I did a new equipment designs, installs, things like that. And also-

Jeff: Did you go to school for anything?

Doug: Yes. Yeah.

Jeff: Where?

Doug: North Dakota State.

Jeff: Okay.

Doug: Yeah. So Go Bison. Anyway, so went from that and got promoted to a Director of Operations for that particular plant, which was in Kent, Washington, and we did about 700,000 or 800,000 pounds of coffee a week.

Jeff: Because this is for every Starbucks, all of the Starbucks.

Doug: Well it's one of four right now, and I think that actually now they have six worldwide.

Jeff: Wow.

Doug: At that point, there were four, but we carried a pretty heavy load.

Jeff: So getting into that industry, you go to school for engineering, what were you doing before coffee?

Doug: I was in a couple of different industries. My first job out of school was I worked in a feed mill and it wasn't very glamorous. I caught bags of feed off the end of the line and stacked them all day and right. I got in the back of trucks and shoveled them off. I'm a farm boy. I grew up on a farm, so really wasn't that big a deal. Then I made a move to Minneapolis from my small town and where I grew up in Northern Minnesota to Pepsi Cola.

Doug: And I worked for Pepsi Cola for about four years.

Jeff: What did you do for Pepsi?

Doug: I was a Maintenance Team Leader that was just a there kind of term for a supervisor, and that's really where I got my first introduction into servant leadership and lean manufacturing and all of those types of things that have kind of stuck with me over the years.

Jeff: What was it like going from, as you said yourself being a farm boy, working on a farm, working for a feed company to working for one of the biggest conglomerates in the world? I mean, Pepsi is up there with Disney, and you know like they own most of the world back then. What was that like? Was that like a total culture shock being a part of something like that?

Doug: Well, it kind of suited me because I always say my dad on the farm was he original servant leader because he had a way about training and teaching that really wasn't offensive. He never yelled at you. He gave examples that you could understand. And Pepsi was a lot like that. They called it the Right Side Up Company. So really it took the traditional hierarchy and flipped it upside down. So that leaders basically were driving support up to the people that were closest to the product. So it became more of a coaching and supporting atmosphere for the employees that let's say for the last ones that are going to see that case before it goes out to the customers. That's the most important piece because of course the customer is Y. So that really suited my nature as kind of being a servant leader. And so I did very well in that environment.

Jeff: And that's something that I learned from you when you started working here is that term servant leader. Can you talk a little bit about that mentality?

Doug: Sure. Absolutely. Being a servant leader is basically just that. You're more of a coach and a mentor to your team than a boss. It's being more supportive. There are kind of four basic tenets of being a servant leader: being there for your people, making people's day, having a little play at work, a little fun, and being there. So that means making sure that everybody that is on the manufacturing floor or whatever you're doing has all the things they need to be successful. So whether that's tools or whether it's coaching or whether it's training, whatever it is, I consider that my responsibility to make sure that they're all successful.

Jeff: It's really interesting. And so did you know about this before learning it with Pepsi Company, or was that kind of like your first foray into that?

Doug: It was really learned from my dad.

Jeff: Your dad.

Doug: My dad. Can I tell you a short story?

Jeff: Please. That's why we're here.

Doug: So some people may not know this unless you come from a farm, but we had a very tall silo. And we were way up on top about 90 feet in the air inside the silo working. And my dad sent me down for... He said, "Go get me a couple of three eighths nuts, bolts, and washers." So down I climb, go over to the shop, and I got two of each nuts, bolts and washers. He said a couple, I've got two.

Doug: So up I climb back all the way up to silo and this is a straight up ladder, you know? So it's a long climb, a lot of work. I get up to the last rung before I see Dad and I dropped one of them. So I dropped one of the bolts. So ting, ting, ting, and all the way down the bottom. And instead of dad yelling at me and all this and that, all he said was, "Next time, I bet you're probably grab three or four instead of two." So that type of teaching stuck with me. He always took the time to not make you feel bad about your mistake, but to make sure that you'll learn from it and that you didn't do it again. And that really stuck with me. I've told that story many times to many teams just because that was one of those events in life with my dad where it was like, "Okay, I get that." It's a way of learning without him saying, "Hey, you dummy, you should have..." So it's always come natural to me.

Jeff: That's really interesting. And that seems like a great learning environment. I didn't grow up on a farm, but I know people who did and like you even explained, you're working all the time. I mean, it is your livelihood. You have to be working all the time. So that instills it in there. And then with your father instilling that type of leadership mentality in you, that's really interesting. Where did it come to the point in your childhood or maybe in your teens when you decided you wanted to go into engineering? Where was that turning point?

Doug: I think it happened even younger than that because my dad was very meticulous about the farm equipment and to the point where... We were fairly big farmers and at the end of the day if we stopped in the field, if we had several implements in the field, they were all lined up straight. A simple thing, but it's just kind of the way that we did things and that appealed to my nature. I wrote my first maintenance program for our tractors when I was about six.

Jeff: What?

Doug: Coaching from my dad saying, "Okay." He would always ask, "What do you suppose..." If a problem happened, he'd go, "What do you suppose happened here?" It was a great way to teach because it's like he's not telling me what happened. He's helping me work through it.

Doug: And so again, that appealed to my nature. So I started keeping track of oil changes and the hours on the tractors and when they needed their next service, kept them washed up, waxed up, everything looking good. Kept all the cabs swept out and all that, just to keep care of things. So I started at a very young age, and I think being with my dad as a toddler on the tractor. Probably almost want us two years old, I was sitting on a fender beside him.

Jeff: Wow.

Doug: So that mechanical side of me started back then because on a farm, there's so many mechanical things around you. We had a dairy farm. We milk cows 4:00 am in the morning, 4:00 am every day, 365 days a year. So we were constantly maintaining and repairing things. So it just kind of came natural to me to follow that path.

Jeff: So interesting. And that path then obviously lead you into some of the biggest corporations in the world. And getting back into coffee, when you started working for Starbucks, in that respect, was that a big shift from what you were doing at Pepsi?

Doug: It was. Although the philosophies were very similar, the early Starbucks that I worked for had some great core competencies and values that they really, really lived. And it was really about those core things of being a servant leader, being there for each other. There's no one person in the team more important than the other. It was all part of being a group, and being part of Starbucks was cool anyway.

Jeff: Totally.

Doug: When I was there, they were building six stores a day, every day worldwide. So it was crazy growth. Even from a hiring perspective, if we brought someone in new, they had to be two times promotable because things were growing so fast that we had to backfill those leaders. So the culture was really great and still have great relationships with Starbucks. Employees are called partners. And so many friends that I still have and still keep in contact with at Starbucks. Just a fantastic place.

Jeff: That's awesome. And we joke about it sometimes on the show like, "Oh that Starbucks," because we're Death Wish Coffee. But when it really comes down to it, and I've said this before, here at Death Wish Coffee, we have a lot of respect for Starbucks because if Starbucks didn't have a good business model and take the world by storm like they did, there would be no third wave coffee. There would be no way that something like Death Wish could climb that ladder.

Doug: Absolutely.

Jeff: And like, and they made the model. They broke the mold with it.

Doug: They really did. And they're responsible for a lot of the fair trade things that happened in the world and kind of led the way along those. So yeah, I'm proud of my history with Starbucks. A really great company.

Jeff: Yeah. And they're still innovating. And I always laugh too because people will sometimes catch me with a Starbucks like see if I'm all decked out with Death Wish. But, and I've said this before, if I'm on the road, which I'm on the road a lot for this job, I know that consistently I'm going to get a consistent cup of coffee from Starbucks. I love going into mom and pop coffee shops, and I will do that all the time or diner coffee. Oh.

Doug: Absolutely.

Jeff: Something about a greasy spoon coffee. Oh, I just love that stuff. But sometimes it's good and sometimes it's really bad, and you don't really know what you're going to get. The good thing about Starbucks is I know I'm going to get a medium of the road, middle of the road cup of coffee every single time.

Doug: Yeah. And that's one of the core values is consistency. Howard Schultz, the owner always said he wanted it to taste the same in Taiwan as it did in Seattle. If he ordered the same drink, it should be exactly the same. So we worked really hard to make that consistent. Which kind of lends itself back to the manufacturing process in general is where the consistency's born.

Jeff: Right.

Doug: Because with all the different shades and grinds and all of those things, different types of coffee, origins, all of those things contribute to everybody getting a consistent cup of coffee, which we work really hard at here at Death Wish.

Jeff: Totally. And and we're looking at Death Wish Coffee, and I say this all the time, that we want to caffeinated the world. Much like Starbucks did, and someday hopefully we'll have Death Wish Coffee shops all over the world and they'll be serving that consistent cup of Death Wish.

Doug: Absolutely.

Jeff: At all of those as well. And I didn't know, I don't know how much you knew about coffee going into the business. When I started at Death Wish, all I knew about coffee was to hit the button that said coffee on the machine and it would make the coffee and that was it. I definitely knew it came from a coffee bean, but I knew nothing about it. What blows my mind still to this day is depending on the bean, where it comes from in the world. I mean, literally 50 feet away from the other bean could change it. And the tenth to a hundredth of a degree of a roasting process can change that flavor profile and it blows my mind.

Doug: Yeah. It's really coffee is born out of earth, fire and water, and when any one of those is different, it changes the nuances in the coffee. Starbucks has a coffee master program, which takes about a year to go through. You'll learn so much about the different characteristics of coffee and what different soils and different areas of the world due to the flavor.

Jeff: It's so interesting.

Doug: Yeah.

Jeff: I know that you had talked about the coffee master program because you had seen it there as well. And it's something you want to implement here too, right?

Doug: I definitely do. I think it's important for us as Death Wish Manufacturing to work towards that consistent product and understand what it should taste like and what our customers expect. And we work really hard at that. When that person is brewing up that Death Wish or this Chemex or whatever it is, it tastes the same every time and they have that great experience.

Jeff: Wow. So a coffee master program, is that something that Starbucks created or is that something that exists out in the world that you can kind of implement into your company?

Doug: Yeah, most companies would do it, I would think. You just need to train your palate and you kind of use a control sample. So let's say we have the real Death Wish here and there's three or four others, and you don't really know which is which.

Jeff: Right.

Doug: You have to train your palate to kind of pick out the differences in them. And in that way you train yourself to say, "Oh that one's Death Wish," or it could be Death Wish that might've had an issue of some sort. And you go, "Oh that one's not right." So it's training your palate to understand exactly what Death Wish Coffee is supposed to taste like, what our customers expect, and making sure that that happens before it leaves the plant.

Jeff: Yeah. So you said that something like that process would take about a year to go through.

Doug: Yes. If you really dug into origins and all the coffee in the world's, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. So you go take that ring around the world, it's really eye opening to visit some of those places and see coffee grown and how much work goes into a pound of coffee. Because one coffee tree gives you one pound of coffee. So if you think about all the pounds of coffee that are consumed every day and a lot of the hand labor that goes into coffee, there's a lot of hardworking folks out there that that are getting those beans to people around the world.

Jeff: Totally. Totally. And that's what's so interesting to me is how I've learned about it being at this company. Now that we are doing cuppings and tastings and stuff like that, and I know like a Dave, our roaster, his palate is completely different now because he's doing it all the time. And I've even noticed it with myself. I've done a handful of them now, and like the first time I did it I was like, "Oh, they all taste like coffee," you know? And now I'm starting to be able to pull out some of those notes and I'm starting to be able to differentiate, "Oh, this is a Death Wish. This is our blend."

Jeff: When opposed to like a single origin over here. And it's so interesting to me just on the science side of it too. Because like you brought it up, coffee literally exists between the two tropics, which is a very narrow band around the world because a lot of that band is ocean.

Doug: Right. That's right.

Jeff: So when you really comes down to it, there's so little of the world that this bean is produced yet there's so many variations.

Doug: Absolutely.

Jeff: And that's why it's such a culture. That's why it's so neat that coffee has created this culture of the different blends, different flavor profiles, different tastes. And it's really neat.

Doug: It really is. And I love the differences in let's say an African coffee versus a Central American coffee, and once you understand those different flavors because I throw curve balls at the guys at the plant all the time. Well I'll substitute the Death Wish with something else and see who says something, that this doesn't taste quite right. And the guys are great at picking that out to say, "You know what, this is different." And it's a great way to teach, "Okay. Well here's what's different about it and why."

Jeff: So cool.

Doug: So yeah, we're working hard to develop that so that everybody understands because we're all... Of course we drink Death Wish Coffee every day. We love it.

Jeff: Every single day.

Doug: And so understanding again for our customers, how that's supposed to taste for the people that are actually manufacturing and making that and handling that coffee. So important to us.

Jeff: Definitely. Definitely. We have a lot of pride here at this company.

Doug: We sure do.

Jeff: Especially with our product and what we do. And that's why you're such a valued member of this team. Ever since you came in day one, you've instilled that in everybody here and I think that's really, really incredible.

Doug: Well, I appreciate it. Appreciate that.

Jeff: And that kind of brings me into you starting at Death Wish Coffee. Before we kind of made contact with you, had you heard of the company at all? Had you heard of the coffee?

Doug: I had only through a kind of word of mouth. I'd never tried it.

Jeff: We are the upstart skull and crossbones that's out there.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. And normally I was not an all day coffee drinker. So when I met Mike and a few other people that came out, we met in Seattle, I was immediately intrigued with their vibe. they just had this thing, this cool factor about Death Wish that just really made me curious. And as things worked out Mike offered me a job, and we literally moved coast to coast.

Jeff: Coast to coast. We brought you from the West Coast over here.

Doug: I lived right on the water. So truly from the coast to almost to the coast. So it's been a great move. I'm very excited to be here. I love, love, love the atmosphere that we have here at Death Wish. Everybody cares about each other. We're very proud of our product, and people just go the extra mile to make sure that everything goes out the door perfect. Whether it's the way the package looks or the coffee inside it. We just care about all of that. And it's really unique.

Jeff: Yeah. I say that too and especially every time that I get to do an employee episode here, I get that from everybody who works here is that we have that pride. We really believe in the brand. We really believe in the product, and not to just drop big conglomerate names but like I know people working for something like Folgers or something, they don't have that same feeling.

Doug: No.

Jeff: No, it's just no hunch that clock and make it through, which is fine because they are everywhere. But I mean like they don't have that instilling of like every single bag that we put out, we know. We kiss it before we put it in the box, you know?

Doug: I look at it a as craftsmanship. It really is. There's a true art to roasting coffee that coffee masters like Dave and others that I've worked with, I had the privilege of working with, understand. And as you said, one little tweak off the roast curve can change your flavor completely. So much artisan work goes into making sure that coffee is the same every time. I know a lot of people think why you throw it in the roaster, you roast it for 20 minutes, and you're good to go. And there's so much more to it than that.

Jeff: So much. I learned something new. Every single day, I work here and I absolutely... Again like all I knew about coffee was the coffee button and I enjoyed coffee. I drank coffee, but I never thought that I would be a part of the industry and be so interested in the industry working for this industry. And that kind of brings me to the theme of this show. Through everything you've done, you've grown up on a farm, to studying engineering, to working for some of the biggest companies in the world, and then moving across the country to work for Death Wish Coffee. What fuels you to keep going? What fuels you to do what you do?

Doug: Well, for starters, I love the coffee business in general, but it's really the quality of the product and the quality of the people here that keeps me going. We've talked about servant leadership, and what gets me up every day is going to work and being with all those people that care so much about the product we're making. We go to whatever ends we need to to make sure that everything's right. And there's so many different stopping points in the coffee process from when it's in its green state all the way through into the bag. And every one of those has to be dead on. And people are, I think the good word to use here is our employees are very passionate about that.

Jeff: Definitely.

Doug: And I love that. I just love that, and I love being part of it.

Jeff: It's incredible to see where we are as a company now knowing where Mike started in the basement of Saratoga Coffee Traders with a literal idea, and sometimes your best laid plans go to rot. And that happens throughout life. We all experience it. But Mike's plan from the beginning was he wanted to create a good cup of coffee for his customers, a strong cup of coffee for his customers, but also fuel the passion of the people that he was serving that coffee to and the people that were helping him to make that coffee. He is all about fueling people's passions, and it's inspiring to me to be able to say that we work for a company right now that still does that even through all of our growth through everything that we've achieved as this company. A lot of times something like that, especially an idea like that could just be fall by the waist side.

Doug: Absolutely. Mike and I talked a lot about when we first started discussing the job, how do you get big and stay small. And how do you keep that passion and grow like we're growing. And we've got that nailed. It starts with Mike's passion for what we're doing.

Jeff: Definitely.

Doug: Because as you said, in that basement, that's where that all started, and that still carries through today. And having the right people, and it's one of the reasons I'm here, that feels that same way. It helps you do that where you get big and you stay small. It's holding true to our origins and why we do what we do.

Jeff: Yeah. I love that. I love that. When you started working here, did anything surprise you? Was anything like, "I did not expect that," we're coming to Death Wish Coffee?

Doug: I think I had been part of such a huge operations. I think that part of it was, "Okay, this is a whole new way for me to look at things." And again, it appealed to to the engineer side of me because I thought, "Okay, this is a template and as we're growing, what will this look like?" I had time to spend time with one of our employees Adam today, and I have a drawing in the meeting room at the plant of what I see the future looking like as far as the design and how everything will be laid out. And I stepped him through that. And that's part of what we do is we engage employees and, "Okay, if we're thinking about new equipment or a new process, I want them to be part of that," because it's not just, "I'll put the machine on the floor and then you guys have to run it." They're part of it from the genesis all the way through.

Doug: So I think to answer your question, it was I walked out on that floor and I'm like, "Okay, this is what it could look like down the road as..."

Jeff: You've seen that finish line.

Doug: I've seen it. There's an old saying that you always begin with the end in mind. And it's really true. So I see this as a beautiful palate that is just waiting to be filled up.

Jeff: Yes.

Doug: And we have the right people, the right leaders, right everything to make it happen.

Jeff: So that kind of leads into my next question that I was going to ask you. Where do you see us in let's say three to five years?

Doug: I see us a well over a $100 million company. Yeah.

Jeff: It's exciting.

Doug: Yeah. And again, we will go to great pains. Again, it doesn't matter whether we're a $100 million company or half a billion dollar company, Death Wish will still be the same product. We'll be consistent. There'll be an awesome cup of coffee. And we'll ensure that in fact, as technology works its way into our business more, the consistency is easier to control. So the automation and things like that really help with the roasting process. Watch it by the millisecond. The things that the human eye can't do. So it can only get better.

Jeff: Yeah. I'm just floored at how this small group of people can just roll with basically anything that's been thrown at us in the last few years. Like just this year in 2019, in like a little bit back into 2018, we've went from a predominantly eCommerce company to a retail-based company. In over 8,000 stores in in the United States, which is absolutely incredible. And that's growing. That number is literally growing as I'm talking to you. I'm sure we're even getting more. And this year, we are working on getting our coffee in places across the world. We're working on the United Kingdom. We're working on getting a new version of our coffee into Chinese and Asian markets and stuff like that. And that is things even two and a half years ago when I started seemed like impossibilities. And they're realities. They're not happening yet. But I mean like they're on the table and their realities. And it's like I can't believe that we are just like, "Let's do it. Let's go for it."

Doug: Absolutely. I mean, who else can say their coffee went to space?

Jeff: Twice.

Doug: Right. I mean that's it's amazing. Yeah. And to be part of something like that is pretty cool. I proudly where that Death Wish shirt because it's very unique and that's why I'm here.

Jeff: Yeah. Well the thing that I like to get into with employees is not just about the day to day, day in and day out on the job. It's the other side of Doug. Like I know a little bit about the other side of Doug. I know that you are a music fan.

Doug: I am a huge music fan.

Jeff: Rock and roll is predominantly.

Doug: Predominantly. Yes.

Jeff: Yes. Okay. So top three bands.

Doug: Black Label Society.

Jeff: Yes, Father Zakk.

Doug: Love Zakk, and my son Ben will love that too because we're both big fans.

Jeff: Yes.

Doug: There's a little story. I got to hold the guitar Zakk played in here, and it was one of the highlights of my life. So Black Label Society. Boy, top three. So it's tough, so many. I am a child of the '70s and '80s so I got to throw The Beatles in there.

Jeff: All right. All right.

Doug: And Led Zeppelin.

Jeff: Yes.

Doug: So that's probably my top three. But over the past few years, I've listened to a lot of Zakk's music and I just love it.

Jeff: Was that another little bit of the puzzle to get you in this company when you found out? Was that part of the initial talks? Did you find out about our connection to Zakk?

Doug: I did. Yeah. I Was like, "Okay, I might get to meet Zakk Wylde. Okay." That was definitely a plus. So yeah, I'm still anxiously awaiting the opportunity to meet him.

Jeff: Next time he comes around, I'm sure he usually comes and visits. And it's funny because there's so many fans that I meet either at conventions that we do or different events that we're at where that's their in. Like, "Oh man, I'm so glad that you heard about Death Wish Coffee. How did you hear about us?" "Zakk Wylde." It's just like that's a stamp of approval.

Doug: Who better to represent us, right?

Jeff: Oh, gosh. Yeah. It's pretty incredible that there's that kind of connection. Do you actually know the rock and roll story of why he has a coffee with us?

Doug: I don't know the genesis of it. No.

Jeff: So there's a little truth, there's a little bit of a rock and roll romance in here, but as the story goes, now Zakk is back in the year in his youth, like many rock stars, liked to party, like to drink a lot and all that kind of stuff. And he has been sober for many years. And as do many of our heroes because you just can't keep going and have that lifestyle.

Doug: You're hanging out with Ozzy.

Jeff: Exactly. Now, he's been there, done that. He had those nights with Ozzy and now he's been clean and sober. The story goes that back in the early 2000s or whatever, he has a friendly rivalry with Kerry King of Slayer who's a guitarist of Slayer. And they loved to riv each other and talk about stuff like that. And Kerry told him that he was all excited because Kerry's famously sober not too, and he was like, "I'm partnering with the coffee company. I'm coming out with my own coffee blend." And Zack, as the story goes, was immediately like, "Well I want one. How come I can't have one? If Kerry King gets one... If Slayer's going to get a coffee, I want a fricking coffee."

Jeff: So him and his manager and his friend and his bass player and everybody blasts go. They started kind of looking around, and it took them a couple of years. And right as this company kind of broke, right around Good Morning America, a little bit before, they blast go, found us, and was like, "Well, that's the most perfect fit in the world." And we were literally like the smallest company in the world. It was Mike Brown and John Swedish basically at that time. I think Eric Donovan had just gotten hired, and it just seemed like, "Wow." I can picture Mike's brain being like, "I just started this company. I'm trying to do the best I can for it. And now a literal Guitar God wants me to make a coffee for him. Where do I sign?"

Doug: Yeah. How cool is that?

Jeff: How cool is that? And it became one of the greatest partnerships ever.

Doug: That's an awesome story. I didn't know that.

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, there's a little truth in there, a little bit of rock and roll romance in there, but it's that fun rock and roll story where it's just like...

Doug: Absolutely.

Jeff: Competition breeds amazing stuff sometimes. And again, Kerry and Zach are not in competition at all. They are friends. They love each other, but they're two of the best guitar players in the world and definitely in the metal scene. So it's pretty exciting.

Doug: Yeah. A little competitions healthy.

Jeff: Yeah, exactly. Outside of work though and outside of your love of music, do you have any hobbies? Do you have anything that really gets you going that's not coffee related?

Doug: Well, I rode Harleys for years.

Jeff: Really?

Doug: Yeah.

Jeff: My parents ride Harleys.

Doug: Yeah. I rode Harleys for most of my life, and I sold my Harley a couple years back. The older I get and I can't quite see and hear like I used to. So, I did that. I have a deep love of a farming.

Jeff: Still.

Doug: And antique tractors, things like that. So I have a pretty large collection of a scale tractors, toy tractors.

Jeff: Really?

Doug: Yeah. And I always had a dream of rebuilding an old John Deere with my dad, and he passed before we could get it done. But I want to do that with my sons at some point, a rebuild an old tractor. So I love the old machinery, more simplistic. Kind of a simple guy. I'm just a give me a-

Jeff: Farm boy at heart.

Doug: Give me a field and a tractor and I'm good to go.

Jeff: I got to ask because I know your father has since passed. Was that family farm... Is that still in the family?

Doug: It's not. It just recently was sold off, which is sad.

Jeff: Yeah.

Doug: A lot of the family farms are disappearing unfortunately.

Jeff: It's unfortunate industry in that decline, which is unfortunate. But there's people like you that want to keep it alive.

Doug: Absolutely. I think it's a part of our heritage that we don't want to lose.

Jeff: Definitely. Definitely. This was awesome.

Doug: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Jeff: I love talking with you, and, like I said earlier, I got to say when you were brought in on this team, it was to fill a position that we had not even gotten to the point to have yet. You know what I mean?

Doug: Yeah.

Jeff: And like because of that scale issue of growing so rapidly as a company, and you came and took to it like a fish to water just because not only were you in the industry, but you're passionate person like the rest of us. And I can't imagine Death Wish without you anymore.

Doug: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Jeff: Awesome. So yeah, thanks so much for being on the show.

Doug: Thank you.

Jeff: Awesome.