20 years in business – but not the time to celebrate, says South Wales coffee expert

Bridgend saw Argie’s Coffee roasted for the first time twenty years ago this week as owner, Phil McArdle started as a sole trader on May 1st, 2000.  The company became limited exactly two years later – and while Phil says those early days were lonely and challenging, he says he still operates by the same principles and business model that has taken the company from strength to strength.

Phil says they won’t be celebrating too loudly today as many of the staff are currently on furlough, and it doesn’t seem right to celebrate – but a number of keyworkers have remained on call throughout the crisis to service customers on the frontline, such as police and hospital clients – and to drive donations of coffee for the NHS staff at Llandough Hospital.

Phil, proudly holding a bag from their first batch of coffee ever roasted, says:

“Our packaging has evolved, and our range has expanded but our business model and principles hasn’t changed much.  Our simple philosophy of quality, second to none customer service and working hard are the pillars of our longevity, we are not perfect but when we make mistakes, we always put them right, and we sit behind and support catering managers, business owners to help them run and grow their business. As Argie’s has grown over these past twenty years, I have been indebted to our magnificent staff who are the “life blood” of our business.” 

Indeed, a scan of the company’s social media and online reviews is testament to this, with reviewers praising the coffee, the staff and the service.  Phil says many of their customers, suppliers and associates have been with the company since the get-go, and for an independent, service-led coffee company in Bridgend, Phil says they ‘punch well above their weight’, servicing many local authority and public sector contracts across South Wales in a highly competitive sector, as well as a multitude of restaurants, bars and cafes.

Phil explains that the secret to their success is putting customers at the forefront of everything they do:

“Our most important commodity is our customers and they have and always will be put first.  We have tried to always to be there for them – especially in emergencies, whether it is a same day delivery or an equipment loan, we will “bust a gut” to make sure that their business runs seamlessly, and hopefully our customers know we have “got their backs”.

“Unfortunately, this is not the time for a celebration as we know that lots of business are struggling.  We have twenty years of experience and knowledge and observation into what makes a successful business, so once lockdown is over, we will be there to help our customers and potential customers, offering free support and advice so they can hit the ground running when this crisis is over.

Phil says the company have plans in place to help customers recover quickly from the crisis:

“It’s sad that we are spending our 20th Anniversary in lockdown, but it has been an incredible 20 years and we know what works in our sector.  I have spent lockdown time studying the impact of this crisis on our industry, looking at new ways which people are consuming and delivering their daily beverages and am already working on new business strategies for the catering sector – I will be supporting our existing and new clients with 1 on 1 business advice, sitting down with them to see how they can improve their business, including free sales, technical and barista training. We will also give clients access to our marketing and design teams to help them develop new menus and marketing materials.”

“I am proud that many of our early customers are still with us, and proud of our team.  I now look forward to the next 20 years, when Covid-19 has become a distant memory, and we can all look back together on these events of Spring 2020 – hopefully then we can celebrate in style!”

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