Veterans John Richards and Neil Johnson, owners of OneNation Coffee, are dedicated to helping veterans, first responders and their families one cup of coffee at a time.
Companies are founded to fill a void, offer a different level of service or quality not available in the marketplace. The vision usually starts with a simple conversation among friends, ideas are tossed around, acted upon, or passed over. Veteran and part owner of OneNation Coffee, John Richards, had such a discussion with a few friends while sharing, of course, a cup of coffee. His companions were active military, veterans and first responders. They talked about where they could buy a good cup of coffee and support causes the group valued. This dialogue lay the foundation for OneNation Coffee, an online and wholesale veteran and first responder owned coffee business started in 2016.
OneNation Coffee is committed to small batch roasting with part of their proceeds supporting the families of veterans and first responders in need. They purchase Rainforest Alliance Certified farm beans from local distributors. Through small batch roasting, they can control the heat, air flow and cooling which creates the cooking profiles of signature blends. Reiterating their purpose Richards, who led military special operations for over 20 years, states:
For several years, OneNation leased a space from Coastal Coffee Roasters to roast and sell their products. Richards is grateful for owner Brad Mallett’s willingness to help him learn the industry and grow. In 2019, businessman and former Navy Nuclear Reactor Operator, Neil Johnson, with a passion for investing in nonprofits focused on veteran care, became an equal partner. Johnson’s business acumen helped Richards create a strategy to extend OneNation’s scope, develop branding and merchandise. The company moved to 398 E. 5th North Street in Summerville, hired Doug Heffner to oversee operations, and created a nonprofit arm, OneNation Foundation.
OneNation Foundation, headed by Richards’ wife Michelle, is an organization through which they are able to give veterans and first responders assistance through physical, educational, and emotional support. It serves as a reminder, to families in need, they are part of a larger community, and their dedication and sacrifices are all not unnoticed or in vain. It is OneNation Coffee’s commitment to helping and giving back through both a percentage of their proceeds as well as outside donations.
To keep costs competitive, marketing is based on referrals, their website, and social media. Through these outlets, they reach wholesale distributors, bulk customers, independent coffee shops, businesses interested in private labeling and retail consumers. They are in the process of opening a flagship coffee shop/restaurant in downtown Greenville. Their goal is to become a national company and have a greater impact giving back to the veteran and first responder community “to uplift American heroes who sacrifice so much to serve and protect the freedoms we love.” AM