Galaxie Coffee Wins Through Perception, Products And Passion

Feb. 12, 2019

Being in the middle can sometimes be a good thing. For Galaxie Coffee, a mid-sized office coffee service (OCS) operation based in Farmingdale, NY, it allows them to be more responsive to customer demands while still offering a variety of high-quality products not available from smaller operations. Dedication to coffee and providing for the customer has allowed Galaxie to thrive for 50 years. Ed Seidenberg, current CEO, has overseen much of the company’s latest evolution from simply providing coffee to offering an experience for its clients’ employees and customers, through coffee and other related products. The past five years have yielded a different business model than when Galaxie started and it’s one that promises plenty of growth.

Modest beginnings

There were five partners who started the business in 1969 explains Seidenberg about the founding of Galaxie Coffee. Among them was Leonard Robbins whose son Neil continues to be an integral part of the business today. “As an owner, Neil wears many hats including sales, installations, repairs and management of the drivers and warehouse. I like to say he makes the train run on time,” said Seidenberg.

When Galaxie first started out, it was run from a facility in Massapequa, NY, with two trucks and a station wagon. By 1972, the company had outgrown its location, and the owners moved it to West Babylon, NY, where it began servicing several of the areas it serves today, including New York City, the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island), Suffolk County, Nassau County and Westchester County.

“At the time, OCS was underdeveloped,” explained Seidenberg. “It was mostly coffee clubs where employees chipped in to buy the coffee from a distributor.” Even if the employer offered coffee, it was more about being a convenience for the employees than about a delicious perk that drove positive company culture.

By the time Seidenberg joined Galaxie in 2005, the industry was already changing. Unemployment was low and workplaces were interested in their coffee programs being seen as office perks.

Seidenberg had glimpsed these changes to OCS through the many businesses he grew and sold before joining Galaxie. The coffee service business specifically interested him because of how important it is to people’s daily lives. “They enjoy what we serve,” he said.

Fourteen years ago, when he found himself looking for a business to acquire, Seidenberg decided to look in OCS. He and his business partner, Joseph Gregori, met Neil Robbins, while visiting Galaxie Coffee. The dedication to excellence and passion for the business Robbins and the entire company displayed convinced Seidenberg and Gregori that they had found the right business for them. They bought a controlling share in the company and asked Neil to stay on in a leading role. It's a strong team. “The coffee business is just in his blood,” said Seidenberg about Neil. “Joseph and I have worked together for 24 of the last 29 years with Galaxie Coffee being our third successful venture. We can finish each others’ sentences,” said Seidenberg.

Since 2005, Galaxie Coffee has acquired Regal Coffee, Marlin Beverage and All Island Janitorial Supply. In addition to offering coffee, tea, water, soda, condiments, snacks, food, fruit and paper products, the acquisition of All Island further expanded the product line to include many janitorial, paper, cleaning and floor care products, garbage can liners and light bulbs. “Selling more products to our existing customers has played a key role in our success,” said Seidenberg.

Much like when Galaxie began operation in 1969, it continues to be a family company. Today Seidenberg’s wife, Ronni, and Neil’s sons, Lenny and Billy, play important roles in the business. The company has also relocated its headquarters to Farmingdale, NY.

Growing corporate coffee

As Seidenberg began selling coffee service as the new CEO of Galaxie, he saw growth opportunity in corporate accounts. Corporations wanted to offer something better to employees. “Our corporate customers want to treat their employees the way they want them [employees] to treat their customers,” he said.

“In 2005, Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee offered Galaxie Coffee distributorships which really got us into the corporate market," said Seidenberg. Single-cup coffee provided the combined benefits of ease of use, higher quality product and increased variety. It helped to triple the corporate side of Galaxie’s OCS business, which now represents 75 percent of annual revenues, with bagel shops and delis making up the other 25 percent.

Seidenberg noticed single-cup products have really increased in quality and the equipment is more reliable over the last five years, which has made it easier for companies wanting to offer these high-quality single-cup solutions. Galaxie offers multiple single-cup options including bean-to-cup, pods, k-cups, espresso and cold brew. He believes there is a place for both single-serve and drip coffee in today’s market, however.

“Drip coffee is making a comeback,” he said. “If you’re willing to go through the efforts of making a pot, you can offer high quality coffee at a reasonable price.” Galaxie’s customers are starting to take advantage of this. It’s elevating the experience in the breakroom, transforming the space into a place to hold informal meetings and engage with co-workers. Seidenberg has also seen an increase in espresso, high-end small-batch roasted coffees, healthy snacks and cold brew, which Galaxie offers in a keg, countertop dispenser or fridge pack. In addition, Galaxie Coffee has broadened their paper product offerings to include a wide range of eco-friendly products.

Quality reigns in retail

Delicious, high-quality coffee isn’t just important to Galaxie’s corporate customers, but also the foodservice establishments they serve. According to Seidenberg, the bagel shops and delis in his area want to offer a cup of coffee that will inspire customers to return. Many even sell the coffee directly to customers, driving Galaxie’s private label success. “The coffee has to be excellent and it has to be consistent,” said Seidenberg. He is proud of the quality Galaxie can offer these establishments.

The ability for Galaxie Coffee to be responsive to the latest trends in coffee service as well as provide a reliable service and superb product at a fair price has led to Galaxie‘s success. At 22 employees, it is the ideal blend of corporate might and intimate business where the owners are active in day-to-day operations with a pulse on their customers’ needs.