Even in Seattle, Wash., with coffee houses, drive-thrus and carts everywhere, single-cup in the office is a great customer convenience, Rafael Rosario observes.
Rafael Rosario, the 2009 Automatic Merchandiser OCS Operator of the Year, loves building an OCS business. He is presently establishing his second OCS operation as the OCS manager at Summit Office & Refreshment Services in Everett, Wash.
The consumer’s love of good coffee and the growing availability of high quality products and equipment have made OCS a great business, and Rosario wouldn’t trade it for any other job he has known. His enthusiasm has earned him praise from suppliers and customers alike.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Rosario spent eight years in the military after graduating from high school before seeking full-time work. He spent time in different service industries before getting into refreshment services.
Rosario joined Suntory, which is now part of DS Waters of America Inc., as a salesman in 2000 in San Francisco, Calif. In his first year, he won Suntory’s route sales rep of the year contest. After one year on the job, the company asked him to oversee its expansion into OCS.
A NON-COFFEE DRINKER, ROSARIO LEARNS TO LIKE COFFEE
Rosario wasn’t even a coffee drinker, but he recognized coffee’s popularity as an office refreshment, so he accepted the OCS position. He also liked working with coffee more than bottled water. “It’s a lot easier to carry a case of coffee than a 5-gallon bottle of water,” he said.
Two years later, when Suntory merged with Danone, the company moved him to the greater Seattle, Wash. area. The company arranged for him to spend time with a roaster to learn more about coffee. “It was all a learning experience,” he said. “I (eventually) considered myself a coffee person.” He was then put in charge of building the company’s OCS division in the Seattle area.
Rosario relished the challenge of finding out what each coffee customer was most interested in. He soon learned that selling coffee is largely a customer education process, and one that he enjoys. “There is always something new to learn and teach people about coffee,” he said.
In 2007, Birmingham, Ala.-based Royal Cup Coffee Co. approached Rosario about joining their new West Coast operation. This presented a new opportunity since Royal Cup is a coffee roaster in addition to being a coffee service provider. Royal Cup offered him a sales position in its foodservice division, and he accepted. He traveled to the company’s Birmingham facility for training, then worked from Kent, Wash.
Foodservice coffee was a new experience for Rosario. The volumes are bigger, but there is less emphasis on personal service. “They are more money oriented,” he said of foodservice. Rosario found he missed OCS.
This year, Summit Office & Refreshment Services in Everett gave him an opportunity to return to OCS. The company was expanding into OCS after acquiring another vending operation that already offered OCS.
“He (Rosario) understands the core values of customer service,” said Ryan Wear, principal owner of Summit Office & Refreshment Services. “He knows how to handle every situation in OCS.” Wear is glad he hired Rosario since OCS is the company’s fastest growing segment.
One of Rosario’s first moves was to change the private label coffee. He believed the previous roaster was not providing the best quality and was unable to meet orders quickly.
The company now has two roasters. One strictly provides whole bean coffee for single-cup machines while the other packages OCS fractional packs and vend coffee.
In one year, Rosario brought 100 OCS customers. His main selling point continues to be good service. “If you keep your word to your customer, everything else just falls into place,” he said.
Even in Seattle, with coffee houses, drive-thrus and carts everywhere, single-cup in the office is a great convenience. “The convenience factor is huge for a lot of these customers,” Rosario said.
If the recession is having any effect on OCS customers, it is underscoring the economic benefit of OCS compared to other retailers, Rosario noted.
Single-cup remains the fastest growing part of the business. About half of all the company’s brewers are single-cup. Summit works with Avalon, Keurig and Douwe Egberts. Rosario is considering using a manual pod system, but has not yet decided on this.
Meanwhile, Rosario enjoys the opportunity to establish a high quality OCS operation in a market where quality service determines success.