Kicking Horse Coffee, one of the most recognizable companies in the Columbia Valley, has teamed up with a major investor and CEO Elena Rosenfeld can see the move as having a highly positive impact on the Columbia Valley as a whole.
“As the company moves along, there’s a lot of opportunity, and there’s certainly a lot of opportunity for the valley,” Rosenfeld said. “You have the business growing, which attracts more businesses, it’s one big organism. We support a lot of businesses in town, either directly or indirectly.”
Kicking Horse Coffee was started in a garage in 1996 by Rosenfeld and her former partner Leo Johnson.
She said that while she initially didn’t think the company would make it this far, it didn’t take long for her to gain that confidence. The investment by Branch Brook Holdings, a U.S equity firm and subsidiary of Swander Pace Capital, marks the end of an 18-month decision-making period during which the company was courted by more than 20 parties that showed serious interest. Johnson sold his controlling stake in the company as part of the deal.
Rosenfeld said she picked Branch Brook in part due to aligned goals and values, and that she is excited to learn and be a part of the new board. The introduction of a board is of particular interest to Rosenfeld, as she feels that having that extra experience in a variety of markets can only help Kicking Horse continue to grow its brand.
“They have a broader and maybe more mature vision of what the market looks like,” Rosenfeld said. “Not necessarily for coffee, but for our industry.”
According to the Branch Brook Holdings website, the company is a partnership with Jefferson Capital Partners and United Natural Foods Inc. and has a mandate to invest in organic and natural consumer product companies based in North America.
Swander Pace Capital, the parent company, has also invested in companies such as Reef Holdings, which specializes in footwear for the surf market, and Liberte Brand Products, the leading Canadian manufacturer and marketer of natural and organic yogurts.
The investment could pay dividends for job-seekers in the Columbia Valley. While Kicking Horse Coffee currently employs about 40 staff, Rosenfeld said the new opportunities presented by having the equity firm involved are huge, and that the company is actively pursuing new market opportunities in both eastern Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, as well as in Colorado.
“We’re going to put a good strategic plan together, and focus,” she said.
Rosenfeld also said that the company plans on remaining extremely active in the Columbia Valley, and that she doesn’t plan on neglecting the communities that have given her so much over the years — it’s extremely important for her to continue to be involved with community groups and events.
In the past, the company has supported a number of environmental groups, including Wildsight and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The company will also continue to experiment with renewable energy, including solar panels and wind turbines.
“Invermere has been good to us,” said Rosenfeld. “We’ve gotten a lot of support along the way.”