Scott Gondzar specializes in coaxing bold flavors out of simple, organic ingredients.
When he decided to follow in the steps of his mother, a business-savvy entrepreneur, he applied the same approach to creating a business as he does to perfecting a coffee bean roast for Snowy Elk Coffee , a Made in Wyoming company based in Cheyenne.
He started with a background in marketing and microbiology, then sought collaboration with other Wyoming roasters. He mixed in a superteam of friends and family from all over the country with varied backgrounds who could complement the knowledge and experience he and his wife brought to the table.
The result is a company that vaulted quickly from a garage, to building a commercial roasting unit, and soon to open a retail storefront coffee roastery and coffee bar in Cheyenne. His products started at the local farmers markets and can now also be found within local stores and shops, and have made it to places as far-flung as Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, Sweden, South Korea and Taiwan.
Along the way, Gondzar’s commitment to quality, community, hard work and humility have steered him toward continued success.
“It’s good to stay humble,” Gondzar said. “I still feel like the little roaster in his garage.”
When the idea of a coffee roasting business first planted itself in his mind, Gondzar sat down with his wife, Julie, and created a business plan. They approached the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) and the Wyoming Business Council for assistance.
“The Wyoming Business Council has always steered me to the right resources,” Gondzar said.
The SBDC helped the Gondzar’s with financial forecasting, work spreadsheets and planning for each growth phase of the company.
Meanwhile, Gondzar latched onto the Business Council’s Made in Wyoming program early for its marketing power.
Snowy Elk Coffee embodies the Gondzars’ passions for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. It’s those wild, adventurous possibilities offered in Wyoming he wants his customers to experience with each cup of coffee.
“A lot of consumers really find Wyoming exotic, especially when they see photos of our majestic landscape, the bison, the Black Hills and Yellowstone, the blue ribbon streams – when they see that and experience that and then go back home, they associate that exotic adventure with the product they are buying from Wyoming,” Gondzar said.
Another advantage of being a Wyoming roaster is the sense of community and open collaboration among Gondzar and his peers. Gondzar specifically thanked Jesse Renfors, founder of Made in Wyoming member Cody Coffee Roaster, for taking him under wing when he was getting started. It’s a gesture he hopes to pass along when the opportunity arises.
Nurturing relationships like that is one of Gondzar’s most important pieces of advice for other Wyoming small business owners.
“Make sure you’ve got a great resource panel – not board members, but a panel of advisors to reach out to in various fields – finance, management, marketing,” Gondzar said. “You always learn something, even if you do go a different direction.”
Snowy Elk Coffee can be purchased online, for wholesale or at Wyoming Home Store, Wyoming State Museum Gift Shop, Rail Yard Coffee Haus & Eatery or Riverbend Nursery & Garden Center in Cheyenne.