Tyler Ford is in the business of waking people up.
Ford is the owner and operator of Satellite Republic Coffee, a new company located in Marianna whose product has quickly found its way onto local shelves and maybe even into your kitchen’s Brewmaster 5000.
The coffee, currently available at Piggly Wiggly stores in Port St. Joe, Blountstown and Bristol, has traveled as far away as Chicago, Nashville, and San Francisco through online sales.
Though Ford and his family reside north of Gulf County, his roots are firmly planted in Port St. Joe.
A former student of Faith Christian School and a 1990 graduate of Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, he went on to obtain a business degree from Bryan College in Tennessee.
His father, Tom worked at the Port St. Joe paper mill and his mother Dawne, still lives locally and has helped to spread the word of Ford’s newest venture.
After college Ford spent some time in Atlanta working sales in the telecommunications field and eventually felt the call of the ministry, spending the past decade as a pastor in Marianna. After his father passed away, Ford found himself asking an important question.
“What do I really want to do with my life?”
He missed sales, the corporate structure and enjoyed interacting with people, and sought a way to combine those loves with the skill set he had developed.
After several conversations with his wife Kristy and their three children, Zack, Jake and Nicole, the answer was clear as mud. They recalled that their favorite vacations were the ones where they relaxed on the back porch of a rustic cabin and drank great coffee.
Ford’s new path began brewing.
After letting the ideas percolate for a bit, he made a bold move in November and left his job to start Satellite Republic. After he explained the business plan to his mother, she loaned him $1,000 to get things moving.
Ford’s friends were confused by the sudden job change and it took a while to filter in that he wasn’t the sales rep for a new coffee company, but rather, the owner.
“I wanted a fun, quirky name for the company,” said Ford. “Everyone is connected. Satellites and republics both bring people together in their own ways.”
The quirkiness didn’t stop there.
Satellite Republic’s packaging, logo and labels, designed by brother-in-law Dave George were created to stand out against the competition.
“I wanted something completely different,” said Ford, “something Earthy.”
Ford enjoys naming his coffees as much as drinking them. Rocketboy is the moniker given to his Sumatra blend, Major Tom comes from Ethiopia, Planet Love hails from Costa Rica and Mosaic Moon uses beans from Guatemala.
While seeking the perfect roaster to create the company’s signature blends he visited a facility outside of Little Rock where he was able to sample the coffees they offered and customize his own flavors.
“For a coffee lover, it was like going to Disneyworld,” said Ford of the experience.
After the ultimate taste-test, Ford teamed up with the roaster and soon after found a partner in Edward “Bubba” Vance, who brought years of experience with import/export to the burgeoning business.
As much as Ford and his family love coffee, he admitted to a secondary agenda behind Satellite Republic.
All profits from his business are donated to the maintenance of a girl’s orphanage situated on the Ivory Coast of West Africa.
The orphanage houses girls whose parents were killed during recent military coups in the country. The building currently has 15 occupants with the capacity to hold up to 144.
Ford said that it’s a “wonderful life” to help children who can’t fend for themselves and have no one to take care of them. His father-in-law was a missionary who dedicated his life to building orphanages and hearing the stories of the places and children touched Ford’s heart enough for him to follow suit.
In addition to building more orphanages in West Africa, Ford would like to see his company help fund projects in troubled areas around India and Haiti.
“Through our business, people can enjoy a product but also give back to something bigger than themselves,” said the business owner.
He noted that feedback on his products has been “extremely positive” and hopes to see Satellite Republic on more store shelves as the year continued. The company is currently exploring a deal with a larger grocery chain in the south.
With “100 ideas” for new flavors of coffee, more quirky names and new marketing strategies it leaves one to question if these creative sparks might be grounds to keep Ford awake at night. If they don’t, the coffee will.
“I accomplished what I set out to do,” said Ford, “I took a great product and a great cause and put them together.”
Visit Satellite Republic Coffee at www.satelliterepubliccoffee.com to learn more about their coffees, their cause and to order online.