BY LAURA CLARK, Staff Writer

Bob Fish, CEO and founder of Biggby Coffee, spoke at the UM-Dearborn College of Business on Thursday evening and told students the story of how he turned his small, privately owned coffee business into franchises, and now the fastest growing coffee chain in the U.S.

“Never question what you do. You’ve just got to love what you do,” said Fish, who gave students, many of them aspiring business owners, some wisdom about business. He stressed that it is important to be excited, energetic, enthusiastic, and dedicated, among other things. Fish opened his first coffee shop near the MSU campus in East Lansing in 1995. Since then, Biggby Coffee has spread rapidly throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and several other states as a result of Fish’s decision to begin franchising in 1999. Biggby Coffee currently has over 100 stores in 9 different states.

Fish explained what made Biggby different from other coffee chains. “Our goal is to serve specialty coffee in a fun and un-intimidating manner,” he said. Biggby’s motto? Have fun, B-Happy, Make friends, Love people, …Drink great coffee. Biggby puts a fun new spin on traditional drinks, with some of their most popular drinks being the “Caramel Marvel,” “Frozen Hot Chocolate,” and “Pomeberry Freeze” (a combination of pomegranate and blueberry).

“Regional dominance is our goal,” said Fish, who hopes to expand Biggby Coffee to 300 units in the next few years. “This is not the finishing point,” he said. “I think I’m still at the starting point of what I’m doing.”

The Biggby Coffee event was presented by the Business of Franchising Initiative at UM-Dearborn. This is one in a series of events in a program funded by the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that features presentations from franchise owners and representatives from corporations. The program’s goal is to encourage recent graduates to stay in Michigan.

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