Mike is the Co-Founder & Co-CEO of BIGGBY® COFFEE, one of the strongest and fastest growing franchise brands in America, but that might not be the most interesting thing about his story.
As a Boy
Mike’s early story is pretty utopian. He is the middle of three brothers born to two of the most loving and supportive parents. Athletics was important and impactful. Mike was a good enough athlete to know how good he wasn’t. There were two major events during his formative years that set Mike’s life on an adventurous course.
When Mike was fifteen, he chose to climb aboard a 154 ft., barkentine rigged tall ship named Pogoria with 38 other high school juniors. They sailed from Nova Scotia, Canada to Singapore stopping at 11 countries – Turks & Caicos, Jamaica, Panama, Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Pitcairn Island, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore. The longest stretch at sea was 21 days and they typically spent 2-3 weeks in each port of call. Mike came home from this experience with a new sense of self and a new sense of the world.
During Mike’s third year at Kalamazoo College, he opted to live in Sierra Leone, the poorest and least developed country in the world according to the World Bank. He lived in the dorms with intermittent electricity and water and spent a significant amount of his time writing the life story of John Henry Smythe (JHS), the first black Officer in the Royal Air Force who was shot down during WWII and lived for nine months as a Nazi prisoner of war. JHS went on to become the Solicitor General for Sierra Leone and close personal friends with Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Thurgood Marshall.
Young Adult/Early Entrepreneur
Directly out of college, Mike spent two years as a straight commission sales rep for five importers in Southeast Texas. Mike will tell anyone who will listen that the best proving ground for becoming an entrepreneur is to work on straight commission. You wake up in the morning and you sell something and make money, or you wake up in the morning and you don’t. No better entrepreneurial training ground.
Mike worked in corporate America for nine months before being summarily fired.
After Texas, Mike moved to East Lansing, Michigan, to do research at Michigan State University and prepare for graduate school. Having extra time, he applied at every coffee shop in town to become a barista and started working at BIGGBY® COFFEE, 6am to 2pm Monday thru Friday. After four months, one of the owners, Bob Fish, talked with Mike about becoming a manager in the business. They went for a four hour walk around East Lansing and at the end of that historic walk, had formed Global Orange Development, the management company for the BIGGBY® COFFEE franchise, on a handshake. The rest is history, Mike resigned his position at MSU and moved full time into the coffee business.
Mike’s most important project and accomplishment has been his family. It hasn’t been a straight line, but he considers it a dream to be married to his wife, to have four beautiful kids, and to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mike is very close with his parents and both of his brothers. Family is, and always has been, Mike’s first priority.
In the fall of 1996, Mike tried out for and made the cut on a beer league hockey team in East Lansing. Twenty-six years later, Mike still skates with this same group, the BIGGBY® Bombers. These are Mike’s best friends and have been a mainstay through his entire adult life. If there has been one thing that has kept Mike on the rails, it has been his friendship with his teammates on the Bombers.
Today, Mike is deeply involved in supporting youth hockey through sponsorship and a strong commitment to developing an 8U model to help local associations grow the game.
Mike’s Moonshoot, or his ultimate professional goal, is to own the Detroit Red Wings.