I set out and built a newer website for Ron, and a friendship and partnership was born. We worked in partnership over the next several years, Ron coaching me on my roasting and me doing all I could do get the RK Drums name out to the public. It truly was a hard to find product at that point, and I thought everyone deserves to know how cool this thing is. Unless you were hanging around on the sweetmarias.com forums, or on coffee geek, you might not ever find this incredible jewel of a machine.
I'll never forget my first experience on the RK Drum. I remember pouring 4LB of beans into the drum.....freshly coming off of my 7oz. electric roaster. 4LB of coffee in one batch seemed incomprehensible. I roasted that first batch as Ron had taught me, and it came out perfect. The sight of 4LB of perfectly roasted coffee (I guess actually it would have been less than that with the water loss, but nevertheless..) pouring into the box fan cooler that Ron made for me.... was exhilarating and quite unfortgettable.
And just like that, my roasting business was off the ground. I set off to sell to friends, and family and eventually restaurants and workplaces!
Ron and I frequented coffee conventions and meetups with other coffee enthusiasts over those few years, all while trying to develop our respective coffee businesses. In early 2008. Ron discovered that he had cancer, and had discovered it too late. He was an incredibly brave and strong man, and his wife Elaine, even more so to endure such a painful times. Before Ron's passing, I met him in the hospital, and Ron, knowing my passion for coffee and having a machinist background asked me to continue running RK Drums. It was part of his legacy...
Worried, I said... "Ron, you need to focus on getting well." He quickly dismissed me with the wave of his hand, and said,
"I have three requests if you do this", and this was something I'll never forget.
"Number one. Always build with good old fashioned American quality. You know what I mean by that, like they used to do in the 50's."
"Number two. Never outsource to China." and..
"Number three, always treat every customer the way I treated you..."
I promised him I would always do my best to live by those three rules, and now 11 years later, I still live by that, we live by that. We, now a bit of a larger team, strive to teach and coach, and help people get to their roasting and business dreams started up as much as we can.
Eventually, we expanded the original 4LB and 6LB drums by offering a 2LB, and an 8LB and 12LB and custom sized drums. We've added some pretty cool coolers and custom rotisserie oven builds as well. We're pretty much open to discussing anything a customer wants to build.
At the end of the day, I still love coffee as much as our customers do, and everyone I get to talk to, is just like sitting down and hanging out with a friend and getting to discuss coffee, I enjoy it very much. Many of those people have likewise become friends over the years.
These days, I run the day to day face of things, teaching customers, talking coffee and working on product development. Monica and Robert manage the machine shop, with a handful of fabricators. Keeping all the gears turning sometimes can be a challenging operation. " We miss Ron, but I like to think that if Ron could see things today, that he would be pleased.