Starbucks Partner Reflects on 34 Years of Staying True to Company Values
Dave Seymour shares something special in common with Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz. Their first day on the job at Starbucks was the same – September 9, 1982.
During Labor Day weekend in 1982, Seymour was helping his sister, Jean, who was a Starbucks partner (employee), manage the Starbucks booth at Bumbershoot, an annual international music and arts festival in Seattle. Starbucks plant manager Steve Ramsay was also helping at the booth. Ramsay noticed that Seymour was a hard worker and called him the next day to offer him a job at the roasting plant on Airport Way South in Seattle.
“I felt excited and honored to be given the opportunity to work at Starbucks,” Seymour said. “I was happy to land my first full-time job there because I already knew almost everyone.”
Seymour has worked in almost all areas of the plant, including production, shipping and distribution. Rather than being assigned to support just one area, Seymour jumped in wherever help was needed – grinding and packaging coffee and packing orders for the then-handful of Starbucks stores and more than 200 local restaurant accounts. He also looked forward to making deliveries to the stores and restaurants.
“We didn’t have people do just one job back then. There were only a little more than 100 employees, including those in our stores. Each of us did everything that needed to be done,” Seymour said. “It was always a fun atmosphere. My favorite part of the job was delivering coffee to our stores and restaurants, because I liked connecting with store partners and customers.”
Over the years, he has held various roles at the roasting facility in Seattle, ranging from production lead to warehouse supervisor, and then he moved to the roasting plant in Kent, Washington, when it opened in 1993. Today, Seymour leads tours at the Kent plant along with managing other projects.
“I share Starbucks history while giving plant tours,” he said. “People are amazed that we used to package everything by hand and deliver coffee to the stores and restaurants ourselves.”
Thirty-four years of Starbucks memories include one of Seymour’s all-time favorites: annual summer picnics when all the employees got together for the weekend at a resort in Hansville, Washington.
Another memory is one that has become Starbucks legend: when Schultz saved the day at the original Pike Place store.
“Howard was visiting the store and noticed that someone took an espresso machine from our window display,” he said. “He chased the guy for several blocks and caught him and brought the machine back to the store.”
When Seymour first started, he never imagined Starbucks would grow as big as it is today or his fellow new employee would run the entire company. He has seen exciting changes in the company over the years, most recently with Starbucks social impact initiatives that focus on creating opportunities for veterans, youth and partners pursuing a college degree.
“I feel proud to be a Starbucks partner because of all the good that we’re doing around the world,” he said. “Starbucks takes care of its partners and customers. Even though we’ve grown bigger as a company, we’ve always stayed true to our values, treating one another with respect and dignity and upholding our commitment to quality.”