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Coffee trends: Stuart Daw

Family man, business leader, philosopher, poet, crooner, Renaissance man, friend


April 14, 2010
By Brian Martell

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On Feb. 10, at about 10:30 p.m., Walter Stuart Daw said goodbye to the
world. Born the youngest of five children, he would reply to anyone who
asked where: “Section 10, Township 24, Range 15, West of the Third
Meridian, Head first, facing south, Saskatchewan (Elrose to be less
precise).”

On Feb. 10, at about 10:30 p.m., Walter Stuart Daw said goodbye to the world. Born the youngest of five children, he would reply to anyone who asked where: “Section 10, Township 24, Range 15, West of the Third Meridian, Head first, facing south, Saskatchewan (Elrose to be less precise).”

Stu made a tremendous impact on all those who knew him, whether it be personally or professionally. He worked tirelessly all his life, the vast majority of which was spent in the coffee industry (just shy of 60 years). Stu loved life and the people he met along the way.

He was an incurable optimist who, when faced with a situation that could be taken two ways, always chose the one that made others look good. This was exemplified by his desire to be the best while never walking on others to get to his goal. SD, as he was affectionately called by those close to him, racked up an impressive list of achievements; some of special note include:

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  • As a young sales rep working for Club Coffee, under the founder H.G. Farley, he added to the client roster on average five new accounts per week . . . for each of the 12 years he worked there;
  • He started Stuart’s Branded Foods in 1962, which became Goodhost Foods (in association with Wechsler’s Coffee in the U.S.) that grew into the largest foodservice roaster in Canada;
  • He started Red Carpet Coffee Service, a company that was to grow to be the largest OCS company in Canada;
  • Of the many awards Stu has earned, he was the inaugural recipient of the Stuart Daw Award (OCVSA, now CAMA), Hall of Fame Award (NBPA), Supplier of the Year Award (NAMA) to name but a few;
  • He was involved in an ownership capacity in over 100 companies, with the longest tenure being at The Heritage Coffee Companies.

Beyond an ambitious and intense regard for his own business, Stu gave freely of his time to those starting their careers. He would often be solicited by young men and women who were eager to get into business in general and the coffee business specifically.

Some of the readers who knew Stu may recognize themselves in this regard. His business acumen was renowned not only in the coffee business but also in academic circles. The most prestigious “biz school” in Canada, The Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario, has used a case study developed and written by Stuart for over 18 years for their MBA program, and it is still being taught at UWO today. 

Stu loved to regale others with stories of his youth, whether it was anecdotes about life on the farm in Elrose, Sask., or Bowmanville, Ont. A true showman, he would have all those in earshot hanging on every word waiting to find out what would happen next with Bubbles the cow or the last minute of a crucial hockey game played on a frozen prairie pond. His repertoire would also include the most colourful of entrepreneurs he dealt with as customers, suppliers or partners.

His skill as a curling skip earned him the respect of his teammates and adversaries alike; SD was once the president of the Dixie Curling Club (1987-1988).

Among his other interests, Stu loved ideas and was the philosopher emeritus of the coffee business. Influenced by the works of Ayn Rand, Stu was guided by the virtues of productivity, honesty, integrity, discipline and a profound respect and love for one’s own life. If you got Stu going on the topics of objectivist epistemology or metaphysics, you knew you were in for a very long and animated discussion.

He also had a liking for ballroom dancing and was as talented on his feet as he was in the boardroom. Stuart was a member and a tireless supporter of the Tampa Bay Highrisers Toastmasters Club. Winning numerous awards at the club, district and state levels, he nonetheless was a mentor and tutor to those who wanted to improve their ability as public speakers.

Of all the aforementioned achievements, Stu’s greatest passion after his family was the coffee business. He rarely took time off, but was quick to offer it to an employee who he thought might be working too hard. He made it a point to make all those in the various companies he managed feel important and as equals.

The lessons learned and the wisdom gained from Stu were invaluable and always offered in the most respectful of manners. His partners in the coffee game admired and respected him for his razor sharp intellect, amazing stamina (even well into his 70s) and for an attitude that can best be described by his hallmark tag line “Onward and Upward!”

His ability as a master coffee cupper was not equalled anywhere . . . period. And he was not shy to share his opinion when he thought the emperor had no clothes, much to the chagrin of the tailors.

There are so many other things that can be said of SD, but space will not permit. Personally, I shall remember Stu as a teacher, mentor, role model and father figure. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him, who admired him and who loved him.

Stuart is survived by his children Wendy, Sandy, Lori, Kevin and Ginny, his step-children Barb and Brenda, his seven grandchildren, and by countless friends.


Questions or comments? Visit Brian at www.heritage-coffee.com .


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