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The SanFranRoaster Blog......

A Commitment to Quality and Craftsmanship

Posted by The San Franciscan Roaster Co.

Thu, Jul, 04, 2024 @ 00:07 AM


The second part of our interview with Bill Kennedy, President and Co-owner of the San Franciscan Roasting Co.

We delve into the corporate structure and the company culture that makes it possible to produce the best commercial coffee roasters on the planet. 

Interviewer: What makes the San Franciscan Roaster Co. different from other roaster manufacturers?

Bill Kennedy: We strive to create machines that not only produce great coffee but also inspire a sense of "wow." This commitment sets the San Franciscan Roaster apart from any other manufacturer on the planet. My wife and I own this company, it’s a closely held corporation, which means we are not beholden to any angel investors or venture capitalists. This independence allows us to maintain uncompromising quality.

Interviewer: How does being a private company influence your manufacturing process?

Bill Kennedy: We can be completely focused on building our roasters to be highly effective for roast masters. We do this, by ensuring they have precise control over heat application and retraction. That takes workmanship, it takes the highest quality components and it takes time — and it means we don’t take shortcuts. Being a private company means we can avoid the pressures that often come with a board of directors, such as cutting costs by sourcing cheaper components. 

Our components are durable - They usually outlast the lifespan of comparable parts from other manufacturers. For instance, our rubber and plastic seals might eventually need replacement. There’s no getting around that. But the gearboxes and moving parts are built to last a lifetime, with minimal maintenance. We have machines come in that have literally roasted for over two and a half million pounds of coffee, and we can just refurbish these machines and they are capable of roasting another two and a half million pounds, without missing a beat. That is how robust they are.

In contrast to many manufacturers, we refuse to outsource our components to be stamped out in Asia. Instead, we fabricate our machines from raw American steel, cutting, cleaning, forming, molding, and welding it into beautiful pieces of equipment. We even offer custom powder coating with over 6,500 colors to match any preference. Our commitment to using American-made components ensures longevity and reliability, even under less-than-ideal maintenance conditions.

Interviewer: How would you describe the culture at San Franciscan Roaster Co.?

Bill Kennedy: We cultivate a culture of openness and freedom in our company, which fosters a positive flow of ideas without fear of criticism or reprisals. This culture is a stark contrast to environments where people feel stifled, like the recent issues at National Public Radio, where biases and the inability to speak freely caused significant internal conflict.

At the San Franciscan Roaster Co., we value humility and collaboration. When employees share ideas, they know that if their idea isn't adopted immediately, it's not a personal rejection. This humility fosters perseverance, as good ideas might be revisited and implemented when the time is right. We bring together diverse perspectives, from engineers to floor workers, ensuring that our designs are practical and executable.

Interviewer: What challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them?

Bill Kennedy: Our work environment isn't always smooth sailing; sometimes, it feels like climbing a steep hill. However, the perseverance driven by humility helps us achieve our goals. This approach stands in contrast to larger US manufacturers — You might remember one that’s been in the news a bit lately over safety issues — where a lack of humility has led to a less cohesive and more problematic culture.

True humility is powerful because it embodies wisdom and restraint. Knowing when to speak and when to remain silent is a crucial part of being smart. This wisdom, coupled with a hunger to achieve and a collaborative team spirit, ensures that everyone at the San Franciscan Roaster Co. is aligned and working towards the same goals.

Topics: commercial coffee roaster, who we are, experience, art of roasting