Dutch Bros. Shares Soar on Oregon Coffee Chain’s 1st Day of Trading

One of Oregon’s most beloved coffee chains ended its first day of public trading with a share price nearly 60% higher than where it started.

Dutch Bros. Coffee’s initial public offering debuted Wednesday, Sept. 15, at $23 a share and ended the day at $36.68. Co-founder and chairman Travis Boersma sported a backward baseball cap, sunglasses, and a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt as he rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Boersma is now officially one of Oregon’s richest men, with a stake in the company worth about $2.3 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Travis Boersma and his brother Dane Boersma started Dutch Bros. in 1992, leaving the family dairy farm and rolling out a coffee cart in Grants Pass, Oregon. They thought they’d serve up some espresso, rock out to their favorite music, and have fun. The first franchise opened in 2000 and quickly spread across the West Coast, establishing a devoted following of caffeine fanatics dubbed the “Dutch Mafia.”

Music pours out of drive-thru windows as bubbly “broistas” serve up super sweet coffee drinks with names like “Annihilator” and “Double Tourture.” Teenage customers have developed conspiracy theories over what it means if the barista sticks a pink straw or an orange straw in their drinks (hint: nothing. Probably). Dutch Bros. diehards slap stickers bearing the company’s blue windmill logo on cars, laptops, water bottles, and any other available surfaces. 

The company is also known for its charitable giving, especially toward amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. Co-founder Dane died in 2009 after a long battle with ALS, which is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Every year, Dutch Bros. has a “Drink One for Dane” fundraiser, which has raised around $10 million so far for the Muscular Dystrophy Association

Dutch Bros. has just over 470 shops: 153 in Oregon, 89 in California, 63 in Washington, and dozens more spread out over Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and even one in Oklahoma, according to The Oregonian. The chain’s leaders believe they can hit 4,000 stores nationwide.

“We’ll continue to grow. We’ve been a very disciplined growth company from the beginning,” CEO Joth Ricci told Yahoo Finance Wednesday. Ricci sees the company making it to the Eastern Seaboard within the next four years, he said.

Dutch Bros. Chairman Travis Boersma rings the bell at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2022. Photo courtesy of Dutch Bros.

Dutch Bros. Coffee’s Blue Rebel energy drinks account for about a quarter of its sales. The popular neon-colored drinks have names like “Shark Attack” (blue raspberry, coconut, lime, and pomegranate drizzle) and “Unicorn Blood” (strawberry, white chocolate, and almond). Ricci hopes to tap into a market currently dominated by brands like Monster and Red Bull.

Employee satisfaction is a big part of the Dutch Bros. brand. The annual turnover rate among hourly employees is 40%, compared with an industry average of more than 100%, according to Bloomberg.

While Boersma is no longer CEO, he still controls 74% of the voting shares — a unique structure that allows him to protect the culture and direction of the company.

“If I can ensure, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, that we’re doing the right thing and we’re taking care of everybody the way that we should be, that’s paramount,” Boersma told The Oregonian. “Having control, being able to steer the ship still, that’s worth its weight in gold to me.”

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