It isn’t about the coffee to Eric Hadley. It’s about serving those who serve.
The coffee just happens to be the product behind his mission.
Hadley, a veteran of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, was seeking an outlet to help those who have served for the United States or their community. That led to the creation of Got Your Six Coffee Co. LLC in December 2016.
“Got your six,” a term that originated in World War I, means “I’ve got your back.”
Hadley’s business speaks it loud and clear.
“It’s geared around a lot of things that were irritating me within society – veteran homelessness, suicide, PTSD, underfunded fire and police departments, and all of the struggles they deal with,” Hadley says of the company’s mission.
The company’s products are emblazoned with an octopus, which represents the eight branches the company tries to help: law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and personnel from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.
A few months after he began selling coffee in 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the Atlantic coast, and Hadley knew he had to respond. Got Your Six Coffee traveled to Florida and used profits to cover the cost of coffee and thermoses for first responders.
Hadley says he realized then he wanted to do more to help those working to rebuild communities.
Got Your Six Coffee isn’t a coffee shop, yet. It’s an e-commerce company that ships coffee around the country.
But the beans still are available at a handful of spots around Springfield.
Local businesses that carry the products are TommyHawks Axe House, Downtown Tactical, Artemis Overland Hardware, the north side Macadoodles and CrossFit Republic.
The business address, 610 E. Battlefield Road, Ste. B, is actually the location for Downtown Tactical. A partnership with the gun shop started two years ago, says its CEO, Graham Hunt.
“All of his coffee sells all the time, and we don’t order anymore of one than the other,” Hunt says of the flavors titled Zero Dark Thirty, Mustang and Cup of Joe.
Hadley’s wife, Jayme, handles marketing for the coffee business. She says retailers purchase product from Got Your Six Coffee at an undisclosed wholesale cost and sell the 12-ounce bags for $14, keeping the profit.
Jayme says she also works to create partnerships with retailers locally and nationally. With the Springfield presence, she’s hopeful to be in Branson retailers soon.
The products also are sold in Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Indiana, she says.
Got Your Six Coffee products are sold online, too, though Eric Hadley was unable to disclose the percentage in e-commerce.
Got Your Six generated $53,000 in 2018, which he says is more than double the company’s first year. Coffee made up 85% of sales last year. Other products are teas and apparel.
The coffee is roasted and bagged in Springfield, he says, declining to disclose the names of suppliers and the investment in roasting equipment.
Got Your Six Coffee carries over a dozen flavors. The demand for products is always changing, but for now, he says the most popular flavors are Zero Dark Thirty and Cup of Joe.
Customers also can sign up for coffee subscriptions and receive their favorite brew each month.
According to 2019 research by the National Coffee Association, over 60% of U.S. adults drink coffee every day.
“There’s plenty of room for coffee,” Hadley says.
In 2018, Got Your Six Coffee donated $27,000, which was more than the company’s sales the year prior. The money goes to nonprofits and other organizations that work to help veterans of the armed forces and first responders, Hadley says, pointing to $8,500 given to an organization in New Jersey that builds tiny homes for veterans.
He also has traveled to local fire and police stations around the country to drop off freshly roasted coffee to thank them for their service.
His next effort is the Disaster Relief Coffee Truck, a Dodge pickup on 41-inch tires. The truck will enable Got Your Six Coffee to respond to disastrous events – wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes – and help local responders, he says.
With the help of sponsors, he’s invested over $100,000 into the truck, which is 85% complete. A GoFundMe campaign was established in March with a goal of $50,000, the first $10,000 of which will be used to complete the truck, according to the post.
He hopes to complete the truck and open a brick-and-mortar store in the next year. He says his biggest goal is to be able to donate $1 million in a one-year timeframe one day. Hadley recognizes he may need to stop his full-time work as a reliability and life cycle analyst for Virginia-based BMT Designers and Planners and focus all of his attention on the company.
“We’re trying to get to the point where we can sit there and give anybody who’s supported our country the funds they need,” Jayme Hadley says.
The city’s placemaking project aims to connect downtown Springfield to Sunshine Street.
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