Independence Coffee Co. and Del Sol Food Co. Win Small Business of the Year Awards

June 08, 2017
    At the Small Business Forum hosted in Brenham today, two local businesses received an impressive distinction, having been selected as the “Small Business of the Year” for 2017.  The awards were given out in two categories: businesses with 1-25 employees and those with 26-100.  The Small Business Forum was hosted by the Washington County Chamber along with the Burleson County Chamber and Navasota-Grimes County Chamber.  Awards were also presented to top businesses in the other two counties.
    State Representative Leighton Schubert greeted everyone at the Forum when the awards presentation commenced.  He congratulated each award winner and thanked all attendees for their dedication to serving the community. 
    For the Washington County awards, Chamber president Page Michel remarked that it was a difficult selection process, “because we are fortunate to have so many outstanding businesses in this community.”   She explained that both of this year’s winners “truly stand out for their involvement in the community, support of local clubs and organizations, dedication to their employees and dedication to the growth of the local economy. 
     The first award (business size 1-25) was presented to Independence Coffee Company.  Founded in 2003 by owners Ragan and Christi Bond, Independence Coffee Company’s (ICC) mission is to create a passionate community of coffee and tea enthusiasts by providing the highest quality hand-roasted and packaged coffees and hand-blended tea products while honoring traditional 'old school' roasting and blending methods.
    Their first year they roasted 2,000 pounds of coffee.  They joke about giving away 1,800 pounds to family, friends and anyone who would try it…and they drank the rest. By 2015, they were roasting over 300,000 pounds of high grown Arabica coffees from thirteen different countries and growing regions.  Their customers range from individuals ordering from the website to large grocery markets such as H-E-B and Whole Foods Market.  They’ve had the opportunity to service international corporations such as ConocoPhillips who have trusted ICC with providing corporate gift clients with exceptional hand-roasted and blended products.  
    You'll still see Christi and Ragan hand-delivering coffees and teas to grocery markets, convenience stores, offices and other family-owned establishments.  Their roastery is very small by most standards. However, they see that as an advantage.  Their size and hands-on approach allows them to measure up to coffee enthusiasts' increasingly demanding standards.
Independence Coffee gives generously to many local organizations in the community including Adam’s Angels–Serving Families Who Face Childhood Cancer, The Baylor Park Project, The Simon Theatre Project, and Brenham High School Special Needs Program.
    Their involvement doesn’t stop with donations to good causes.  It includes a plan to better the local community while establishing a footprint in the national and global community sectors through the GoTexan, Fair Trade and Whole Trade Certifications.  As they grow, so will their focus on giving back to those in need.  The Washington County Chamber applauds Ragan and Christi Bond and their excellent employee team!
    The second Small Business of the Year award (business size 26-100) was presented to Del Sol Food Company.  Founded over 35 years ago in Austin, the Del Sol Food Company/BRIANNAS Fine Salad Dressings grew out of a desire to create a superior product with family pride and consistent high quality. Named after the owner’s daughter, Marianne, and grandson, Brian, BRIANNAS has grown to become one of the most popular salad dressings in the world.
            Family owned and operated by Jerry and Kitty Brown, the Del Sol Food Company has received numerous 1st place industry taste awards for their delicious dressings.  BRIANNAS packaging has been honored with the most prestigious award in packaging design, the “Clio” Award.
            There are approximately 65 people employed at Del Sol Food, and many of these dedicated individuals have been with the company for a significant number of years.  Half of the employees have been with Del Sol for over 10 years and of those, 12 have been with the company for over 20.
            All BRIANNAS salad dressings are manufactured in a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility in the Brenham Business Center on Hwy. 290.  Originally produced and bottled in a facility in Chappell Hill, the current plant was built in 2006 and it provides many improved benefits including more warehouse and office space, improved quality control and better product flow. In addition, Del Sol Food Company just completed an expansion which gives it a total of 58,000 sq. ft. Since 2010, the plant has carried a superior rating based on food manufacturing standards.  Last, but certainly not least, Del Sol Food recently celebrated 15 years without a loss time accident.  The Washington County Chamber, along with the entire community, are proud to recognize Del Sol Food Company with this year’s award.

     Many distinguished speakers were featured at this event along with Rep. Leighton Schubert, including the keynote speaker Doug Pederson from Twin City Properties; Ashley Freeman from PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Paul Turney, Byron Haney, Bill Kickham from Brazos Valley Affordable Housing; CV Rao from TechOne Centre; Lara de Leon from Ogletree Deakins Law; and Johanna Fatheree of RE/MAX Advantage, who served as M.C. for the event.  Sponsors included Brenham National Bank, Citizens State Bank, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, plus there were a dozen exhibitors and table sponsors.
    Another Small Business Forum will be held in June 2018, and nominations will be sought in the spring for next year’s Small Business of the Year awards. 
    See photos from today’s event on the Washington County Chamber’s social media page: