An interview with: James Engel and Beth Seeber Vice President and Director of Marketing
Who is Parks Coffee?
Parks Coffee is an office coffee service that provides white glove service. This means we come in and cover everything you need from the break room to janitorial supplies, from coffee and coffee equipment to snacks and drinks. We offer our services in 4 divisions:
- Office Coffee—We offer a variety of name brand coffees and provide commercial-grade brewing equipment along with our great tasting coffee. We even roast our own line of coffees, every day at our headquarters! But we don’t just deliver coffee; your dedicated route salesman will Clean, Organize, Merchandize and Inventory (C.O.M.I.) your break room to leave your equipment sparkling and make sure you never run out of the items you need.
- Ice and Water—We offer both ice and point-of-use water machines and provide service on these machines such as cleaning and filter changes.
- Janitorial/Break Room –We provide cleaning supplies, snacks, and drinks for your employees and guests.
- Micro Markets and Vending—We offer traditional vending machines and in select markets, we offer Parks Pantry, our micro market. Traditional vending is currently available in the Dallas area while Parks Pantry is available in the select markets of Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles.
Tell us more about Parks Pantry.
Parks Pantry is a micro market, basically a convenience store inside of your office. We help you select the proper room in your office to set up your micro market, and can customize the set-up to fit your needs. It is an open rack selection with shelving for snacks and coolers with fresh salads, sandwiches, drinks, ice cream and frozen dinners. It is open air, so your employees can grab what they want, read nutrition facts, and pay at a kiosk. It’s kind of like what you would see at a hotel, only you don’t pay at the front desk, you pay at our kiosk. To qualify for a Parks Pantry micro-market, your business must have at least 150 employees on-site. Payment is based on the honor system. Once you decide what you want, you go to the kiosk, scan your items and pay. There is not a lot of theft when it comes to this service. We have only experienced a 1% loss in 180 markets. People like the concept and enjoy making choices!
Our micro market setup actually uses only 33% of the energy that a standard vending solution would use. While using less energy, it can still be accessed 24 hours a day for round-the-clock employees. The kiosk allows anytime use! We have 3 different solutions in our pantry setup:
- Standard—includes wire racks with our logo
- Executive—includes wooden surrounds
- Customizable—includes wooden surrounds and we can even put your company’s logo on kiosks and cooler headers
What is your mission statement?
Parks Coffee® strives for our customers’ affection. We are the best and most complete Office Coffee Service (OCS) in America; providing a comprehensive array of freshly roasted coffees, snacks, drinks, break room and janitorial supplies. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is committed to serving with skill and problem-solving tenacity. We are the refreshment professionals, offering white glove service.
How long have you been in business?
Parks Coffee was started in 1986. We will have been in business for 30 years this year! We truly are family owned and operated. Randy started this company as a one-man show in his garage. He would make all the runs and his wife helped out with the paperwork. Now we are in 8 cities with 8 warehouses in 4 states: California, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas. We actually service Shreveport, Louisiana as well, but that business is run out of our Dallas office. We started roasting our own coffee in 2003.
What kind of businesses do you serve?
We serve anyone who drinks coffee! From lawyer’s offices to warehouses, and everywhere in between.
“We cater to businesses, anywhere and everywhere.”
Beth Seeber, Director of Marketing, Parks Coffee
What are your most popular products?
Our office coffee service is the largest part of our business. Our most popular product is our own freshly roasted coffee. We import beans and roast them at our facility in Carrolton, Texas. In fact, 90-95% of the coffee we sell is our own brand. We did the math and with our fraction packs, which are brewed in the pot, we sold 86 million cups of coffee last year. And, our fastest growing segment of the company right now, single-cups, sold 7.5 million cups of coffee last year. That’s a lot of coffee! Again, we roast our own beans, pack and distribute it all from our facility in Texas. We call our fraction packs our “crowd pleasers.” They come in smaller boxes of 9-10 packs that can sit in merchandisers on top of the counter instead of being stored in huge cases underneath. This method gives our open-brewing Frac Pacs the same variety of choices offered with single cup pods.
Right now we offer 31 blends including hot cocoa, French vanilla cappuccino, flavored coffees, and decaf. We offer top-of-the-line, high-end coffees like our 100% Colombian Supremo, Guatemala Antigua, or our premium Select Estate line of coffees. All of our roasts and blends are 100% Arabica coffees, for high quality and refined flavor. Our biggest movers are the new Darker than Dark and our Sunny Side Up Breakfast Blend. We do offer other brands if customers want them.
Parks Coffee is available to brew in 5 formats:
- Parks Single Cup packs (for Keurig or other K-type brewers)
- Coffee Pods (for BUNN and Grindmaster or other one-cup brewers)
- Fraction packs (pre-measured packs for one-pot brewers)
- Filter packs (pre-measured and filtered packs for one-pot brewers)
- Whole bean or Ground
When you become a Parks Coffee customer, we take care of you! Most equipment is provided free of charge to our customers and we manage ALL service and repair issues. We can have a service technician onsite within 24 hours and sooner if it’s an emergency. We offer all of the following brewers:
- Standard, open brewers with glass or air pots
- Single cup machines (K-type or pod brewers)
- Bean-to-Cup machines (like Starbucks ICup)
- Specialty brewers like Nespresso and Lavazza.
What services do you offer when it comes to ice and water?
Guardian Water Systems is a subsidiary of Parks Coffee. Guardian provides filtered water/ice service to all current Parks Coffee customers. We offer all of the following products:
- Point-of-use water systems (countertop and floor standing)
- Ice machines
- Combined Ice/Water machines
We carry reputable brands like Innowave, ION, and Follett. Our service includes regular filter changes, and Ice Maker cleanings, and sanitization. We will even do a free inspection and free cleaning demo of your existing ice machine. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have clean water and ice units It’s surprising to see how gross an unmaintained ice machine can get! A lot of muck, slime, bacteria and grime grow in them if they are not cleaned regularly. If you don’t get it cleaned by us, you need to get it cleaned by someone! Below are examples of clean and dirty ice machines and coils.
Do you use filtered water along with your ice machine? If you don’t, you should consider having both, especially if the water in your area is hard or contains lots of minerals. Every 6 months, we supply and change water filters for our customers, as well as clean and maintain their ice machines.
How does a customer decide what coffee/water/ice machine is right for their business?
We have dedicated sales people in each department who can help you decide on the best products and services based on the number of employees that come to your break room and what tastes you’re looking for. Our knowledgeable sales staff can help you narrow down which equipment will work best for you and even which coffee will work best in your office environment.Coffee If you’re interested in our coffee service, we offer free tastings for your office. These are great because they only take about 45 minutes. Your employees can come in and taste our coffee without taking up too much of their time. We bring donuts and answer any questions you have onsite—it’s a lot of fun! We often win our customers through our brew demonstrations.
Ice/Water For ice and water needs, our Guardian Water Systems specialists are trained to help you figure out the right size of machine and how much ice you will need. If you find your needs change or haven’t been met, we’ll switch machines out for you. We can also help you figure out what type of ice you need. Yes, there are different types of ice!
- Flake – used in hospitals or produce stands, moldable and cools quickly
- Cubelet – the “chewable” type of ice, popular in fast food settings
- Crescent Cube – Half-moon shaped, hard and clear, slow-melting
- Top Hat – a “gourmet” ice that is clear, hard and slow-melting
- Dice Cube – Hard, clear, maximum cooling and slow melting
Are you concerned about the energy consumption of an ice machine? Again our salespeople will educate you, but we use reputable brands like Hoshizaki and Manitowoc and many of these units are Energy-Star Rated. A high percentage of our customers use both our coffee service and point-of-use water coolers. A customer may start off with only one service but can add on at any time. A lot of our add-ons occur when our drivers make deliveries and can make recommendations to improve the break room environment. For example, if you have more than 5 employees, it is much more economical for you to use a point-of-use water system than the bulky 5-gallon jug delivery service.
Tell us more about break room snacks.
The difference between Parks Pantry and our break room supplies is that with Parks Pantry your employees are paying out of pocket, while break room snacks are provided by you, the employer, as a service to your employees or office guests.
Items for your break room include:
- Creamers (liquid or powder)
- Sugars (cube or granule)
- Tea (loose or bag)
- Snacks (chips, bagels, etc.)
“Basically, anything you would want from a store, we can provide in your break room. If we don’t offer it right now, we’ll get it for you. That’s just part of our white glove service.”
Beth Seeber, Director of Marketing, Parks Coffee
What differentiates you from your competitors?
We spend more money on our customers and on our employees than our competitors. This translates into smaller routes, fewer customers per route, fewer drivers per supervisor. All of these things give us more oversight and training can occur every day. Our priority is our customer and we want to make sure our sales staff and drivers have the time they need to meet our customers’ needs. We have also implemented two important programs to better serve our customers. These programs exemplify our white glove service and include:
- Fresh Pot Program- FPP This is a program unique to Parks Coffee. Our drivers deliver sanitized and hermetically-sealed coffee pots/carafes with every visit. Then bring your used glass pots/ air pots and bring back to our warehouse where they are washed, rinsed, sanitized and sealed; ready to go out again. No other company in the U.S. does this—our customers get a fresh, sanitized pot to use until our next visit. We have plants in Phoenix and Dallas that are dedicated to this sanitization process. We started this program in 2014 and in 2015 we had a 25% growth in air pots that we changed out. Our Fresh Pot Program is completely free of charge to ALL our customers-it is NOT an add-on. We have to do it for our customers; we owe it to them!
- C.O.M.I. This is a cleaning/maintenance process our drivers implement every time they visit your office. They do all of the following during each visit:
- Clean counter tops and equipment
- Organize cabinets and countertops.
- Merchandise products utilizing organizers, racks, and/or coffee caddies.
- Inventory and rotate your products to keep items fresh and stocked well.
Each driver has a route card that keeps track of what you have on hand and what we bring you so that you are never in a pinch and never run out. If you’re having a big meeting, we can overstock you to meet the needs of a one-time event. We can also deliver to a different location if you are having an offsite party or meeting.
What is a typical contract?
We don’t do contracts. We simply invoice after every visit. We do have an equipment agreement that states you can only use our products on our equipment. If you do have your own equipment, you can absolutely still use our coffee! When you use our equipment, we can maintain it to ensure top performance and taste.
What do you see in the future of the coffee and water/ice industry?
Single cup coffee has been a big change in the industry and will continue to grow. Also, darker coffee seems to be trending in the marketplace. We have coffees and products to meet every taste.
Do you have a price range for services?
Yes. We have a catalog that our customers can view for pricing. We also give each customer their own price book based on the number of employees and the number of machines they need.
What is most important for a customer to understand when shopping for a service like yours?
We are a full service, white glove operation. We don’t just drop off a delivery, we are detail oriented and want to keep you happy. Our customer service goes above and beyond because we think of things so you don’t have to. Here are just a few of the ways we help our customers:
- Rotate inventory
- Restock inventory
- Use COMI method to organize/maintain stock
- Clean, service and maintain all our equipment
What are some frequently asked questions?
Most people know what they are looking for, but we do get some standard questions such as:
- How often do you service accounts? Our normal visitation cycle is every 2 weeks, but we may tweak that depending on your size and needs.
- What kind of equipment do you use? We can show you what equipment will work best in your office. We have an arsenal of equipment to meet your needs.
- Are you big enough to handle our account? Our answer is YES! No job is too big! We have 350 employees and are the biggest coffee service in Texas. We can handle your needs whether you are a small or large company. We encourage potential customers to shop around and ask for references.
“We put our family seal on everything we do!”
James Engel, Parks Coffee, Vice President
Do you hear complaints about the coffee service in general?
Yes. Most frustration comes because a customer doesn’t know when their driver is coming. We have solved that problem by furnishing a calendar with our visitation schedule and contact information. Also, customers want a live person available to take calls—we have that too!