Jason Araghi, Jon Araghi
Jason Araghi has lived an international lifestyle, so it’s somewhat fitting that he and his brother Jon now run a company with locations around the world.
“By the end of 2007, we should have 60 international locations, which includes about 20 in Iraq,” said Jason Araghi, 43, president and CEO, Green Beans Coffee Co., Larkspur, Calif., which operates coffee cafes on U.S. military bases throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Africa.
Jason, a chiropractor by training, got into the coffee business by accident. He moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after being recruited to open a large chiropractor and sports clinic in the Gulf City. Personal injuries brought an end to his chiropractic career, and he was managing the business aspects of the clinic when a former patient—a princess—presented him with a new opportunity: the chance to open a cafe in her new furniture showroom.
Joined by his younger brother, Jon, also a chiropractor but with a longstanding interest in the coffee business, the two men opened a Seattle-styled coffeehouse in Riyadh. U.S. military personnel from a nearby base became regular customers.
“We entered into discussion with the military to open a cafe on site at the base, so that soldiers wouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes for a good American cup of coffee,” Jason said.
Within a few months, Jason and Jon opened the first Green Beans cafe, at Eskan Village, in Saudi Arabia.
The concept was an immediate hit, providing far-flung military personnel with a taste of home and a place where they could relax. More locations followed, with the business growing in tandem with the footprint of the U.S. military. The company now serves thousands of soldiers a day, from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, in different branches of the service.
Green Beans Coffee Co. Larkspur, Calif. Annual sales: $20 million (2006)Type of business: Coffee cafesNumber of stores: 65Areas of operation: Global
The overwhelming majority of Green Beans outposts are not traditional bricks-and-mortar facilities. Instead, the company has a self-contained unit, similar to a shipping container, which it can drop into even the most remote locations.
“It’s good to go—all you have to do is plug in the water and power,” Jason explained. “It is basically a 44-ft. trailer container that is totally redone inside, with tile, marble countertops, tables and chairs.”
Wherever they open, the cafes always generate the same positive reaction,
“Some soldiers have said that Green Beans is the best part of their tour,” Jason said.
In March 2007, Green Beans opened its first location stateside, in Vacaville, Calif., near Travis Air Force Base. Several others followed. Unlike the overseas cafes, the U.S. locations are open to the general public.
“As we expand domestically,” Jason said, “our biggest challenge will be to grow brand awareness. Unlike military personnel, the general public is not familiar with our brand.”
While Jason oversees the company from its California headquarters, his brother Jon is based in London and is very involved in international operations. Looking back on his career to date, Jon, 37, said the top lesson he has learned throughout all of his experiences with Green Beans is that “the U.S. soldier is the best customer in the world.”
Jason and Jon have made it a priority to give back to their customers. A portion of the gross sales of all Green Beans locations is donated to charities that support the U.S. military and their families.
CompUSA may get a new look
ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.
According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.
The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.
Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.
While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.
“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.
CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.
The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.
Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans
DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.
Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.
Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:
“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.
“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”