November 02, 2023 5 Comments
We came. We saw. We told our story.
We left with the Golden Ticket!
Fire Dept. Coffee CEO and Founder Luke Schneider and Vice President Jason Patton traveled to Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, recently for the prestigious Open Call event, part of its "Investing in American Jobs" initiative.
At the end of the day, we received an extraordinary vote of confidence from the world’s largest retailers. The Golden Ticket means that you can expect to see Fire Dept. Coffee products on Walmart shelves in 2024!
We couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity or more excited to introduce our coffee to the countless coffee lovers who shop at Walmart every day.
“FDC has been seven years in the making. It took a community to build the foundation. It will take a community to build the house,” Schneider said. “Imagine what we can accomplish together when a company like Walmart gets behind us. We don't take that lightly. This is a new chapter, and it’s time to plant seeds that will bear fruit and touch lives generations from now.”
Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” fame, gave the keynote address.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recorded a video message for participants.
Last year’s Golden Ticket winners shared their stories and the lessons they learned along the way.
The energy was through the roof, and the hospitality was next level.
“It was an incredible experience from beginning to end,” said, Jason Patton, Vice President. “Everyone from Walmart was so welcoming. They made you feel like a celebrity walking in there.”
When Walmart sent out their open call, more than 15,000 businesses applied for consideration. Roughly 1,000 were invited to Bentonville to pitch their company and convince Walmart that they have what it takes to succeed on their shelves.
In the end, only about 200 companies received the Golden Ticket.
On the second day of the event, Schneider and Patton stepped inside a small conference room to meet with two top executives from Walmart’s Grocery team.
Then, for 30 minutes, Schneider and Patton told the FDC story. They shared how the company began and how it has evolved over the last seven years. They shared our vision for the future and our greater mission to support sick or injured first responders.
A big part of the story they told — and perhaps the part that secured the coveted Golden Ticket — was about … our customers. From the very beginning, we’ve been fueled by the organic, word-of-mouth support from coffee lovers who tasted our roasts, wore our gear, followed us on social media and told their friends and colleagues about us.
The Walmart team saw our passion, and they saw the enthusiasm that our coffee-loving community shows us every day.
By the time the meeting ended, the executives told Schneider and Patton that they wanted to see Fire Dept. Coffee in more stores than they originally expected they might offer.
A lot more stores.
So stay tuned because 2024 is going to be a huge year for Fire Dept. Coffee.
“This experience was — for both Luke and me — probably the most validating moment of our time with Fire Dept. Coffee,” Patton said. “To have these leaders from Walmart trust us and believe in us? It was incredible.”
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