Successful Entrepreneur. Job Creator. Tee-ball Coach. Travis Rhoades carries several titles, but it’s the title of husband and father that brings him the most joy. Rhoades is the proud owner of two successful business ventures; seven Scooter’s Coffee locations and a website design company. June marks a very special month for the Rhoades family. He’ll celebrate his tenth wedding anniversary with wife, Kristen. Travis will also celebrate Father’s Day with his two sons, six-year-old Caleb and three-year-old Calvin, along with an eight-year-old foster child living in their care.
Scooter’s Coffee is a family affair for Rhoades. Travis and Kristen own six locations in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area they now call home. The couple also owns the Scooter’s Coffee in Blair, Nebraska, their hometown, with Travis’ mother and father. “It’s nice to have boots on the ground in the area. If something happens or needs attention, we have someone there to keep an eye on our dedicated team and location,” says Rhoades.
Blair is about a half-hour drive north of Omaha, the home of Scooter’s Coffee. The thirty-three year-old Rhoades remembers Scooter’s Coffee first popping up in Omaha. It would be years before he would try the product. “Neither my wife nor I drank coffee growing up,” he says.
Travis grew up in a household built on entrepreneurship. “My dad is the owner of Enterprise Publishing Company, which owns 12 community newspapers in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa,” says Rhoades. The family business dates back more than 100 years. “I grew up in a family-owned business that goes back 6 generations. I was inclined to think owning your own business is a good way of life.”
The family’s business trait revealed itself in Rhoades at a young age. “In elementary school, I would sell Jolly Ranchers to kids on the bus,” Travis recalls. “The margins were fantastic, my mom would buy them, and I would sell them for a dime. I ended up making around 16 bucks before the bus driver shut down my enterprise.”
Rhoades continued his enterprise streak during high school. He would take photographic “action shots” at sporting events and use those pictures to create buttons to sell to players’ parents. “I raised enough money to go to Portland for a journalism trip,” says Rhoades.
The entrepreneurial bug didn’t take long to bite in Rhoades’ professional life. Fresh out of college, he landed a digital advertising sales job at the Sioux Falls daily newspaper. Just over two years into that gig, Rhoades left to launch a web development company, called Web Concentrate, with a college roommate. “I was 25 at the time,” says Rhoades. “If I was going to do it, there was no better time in my life. I specifically remembering thinking, worst-case scenario, if it doesn’t work, we deplete our savings and I’ll get another job. We didn’t have many obligations, outside of a mortgage. I felt I would regret it if I didn’t try it.”
His determination to go out on his own is indirectly how he teamed up with Scooter’s Coffee. Rhoades was a member of the chamber of commerce when a Scooter’s Coffee correspondence popped up in a chamber member email seeking an owner in Sioux Falls. Again, faced with a fork in the road, Rhoades refused to take the “what if” route.
“Kristen and I sat down and determined that if someone was going to pursue Scooter’s Coffee ownership, it might as well be us,” Rhoades recalls. “If we didn’t seize the opportunity, we would regret passing by the store and seeing lines wrapped around the store every day.”
The decision to open a Scooter’s Coffee, came just months after the Rhoades welcomed their first child, Caleb, into their lives.
“We were pumped about Caleb, because Kristen and I always knew we wanted kids,” Rhoades recalls. “I was excited about having a boy, especially for our first child. Before Caleb was born, I would get home from the office at six or later. After his birth, I constantly went home earlier, because he became our top priority. We would sit on the floor and just sort of stare at him.”
Three years later, the Rhoades family welcomed Calvin into the fold. “Caleb and Calvin are best buds.” The fun didn’t stop there. Kristen was a teacher for years and had always had a passion for helping children. That made for a smooth transition when the Rhoades family made the decision to become foster parents. “Kristen has a big heart,” says Rhoades. “When she left teaching to be home with our boys, becoming foster parents filled a little void with helping the greater good.”
It’s a process that has brought joy to the entire Rhoades family. “We’ve been fortunate so far because we’ve had some good outcomes,” says Travis. “In our placements, it’s rewarding to know that we have hopefully helped a family get back on track. We’re really happy for everyone when the kids move home.”
Rhoades brings the same family values present in his home to his Scooter’s Coffee locations. Travis takes care of the operational side. Kristen manages the hiring process, bookkeeping and accounting. “We are a family-run business.” With nearly 100 employees, he is responsible for far more than serving specialty coffee. He’s helping to change lives.
“We really are happy and pride ourselves on the fact that we offer positions that provide for our people,” says Rhoades. “Just recently, in April, two of our managers closed on their first home. It was a proud parents’ moment for us. They purchased a house from being employed at Scooter’s Coffee. It was satisfying that we’re providing the opportunity to allow them to buy a home, buy a car, and they can make a living. That is something I didn’t see coming as being as enjoyable as it is when we made the decision to become an owner.”
An additional perk of being a Scooter’s Coffee owner is forming an even greater bond with his Sioux Falls community. “People say it all of the time, especially visitors, but Sioux Falls is a wonderful place. It’s a nice place to live and raise a family.”
With his parents also serving as business partners, Rhoades never misses an opportunity to call or get together with his loved ones. “My whole family is pretty close,” he says. “I’ll drive down to Blair just to watch Cornhusker football games with them. It’s great to be in business with my dad in some capacity and still get the opportunity to work together. We hang out a lot. It’s fun!”
The family dynamic plays out for Rhoades in everything he does. His goal is to pass those lessons to his sons. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I remember tagging along with my dad when he would run errands or make quick business trips. I’m sure I slowed him down, but now, I do the same with my kids.”
“I hope they can observe that it’s okay to treat people with compassion and empathy,” Rhoades says. “I hope they never take things for granted and remain grateful for the people in their lives. If they’re in the family business years from now, I hope I have instilled the value of being kind and compassionate to people. It’s a universally accepted trait, no matter what you’re doing. Work hard and do the right thing.”
Do you want to realize your own business ownership dreams, like Travis Rhoades? Does the Scooter’s Coffee franchise opportunity sound like it could be for you? If so, learn more at https://franchising.scooterscoffee.com/.
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