Fair Trade: Hard Work for Ownership

Noah Namowicz ’09, is a coffee guy. Drinks it. Sources it. Buys it. Sells it. Lives it.

And now, he owns it. Not coffee just at home, but part of the high-end, green (unroasted) coffee importing company he’s worked for since 2010, Café Imports.

Namowicz, like a majority of Schulze School of Entrepreneurship alumni, didn’t leave college focused on starting a business right away. Instead, he used his education to work at a small company, acquire new skills, and help the business grow. Moving to the director of sales position in early 2014, he’s now become a partner and owner in the company.

“I believe the decision to make me partner was one that functioned as a way for the company to secure me long term and also lay the groundwork for succession planning for our majority owner,” said Namowicz. “The owner has always said to me, ‘A great company needs someone to sell the product, someone to market the product, and someone to take care of the money,’ so he has been assembling a core team to do just that.”

As director of sales, Namowicz manages a team of 16 individuals and has led the openings of the company offices Australia and Berlin, which he said been a true entrepreneurial test, something he was ready for.

“Professors Jay Ebben and Alec Johnson, from the Schulze School, instilled in me an attitude of creativity and success. I never doubted I would be able to do well in the workplace after leaving St. Thomas. I just never thought I'd be a business owner (partner) in an established company like Cafe Imports, before turning 30.”

Now he’s continuing to build his entrepreneurial skillset.

“It's been extremely rewarding for me at Café Imports, and taught me lessons about business I never could have learned in a classroom alone. Also, having the funding and ownership willingness to execute them properly hasn't hurt either.”