In Fords in Four, we ask an alumnus four questions; he shares insight and stories. In this blog post, Andrew Geffken '04 shares how Haverford gave him the self-confidence to start his own business, Charm City Meadworks, and how he stays passionate about his work.
Can you recount a memorable Haverford experience or faculty member?
On the first day of the year, the seniors walk into the Field House with the kindergarten class. Headmaster Cox opened his speech on the first day of my senior year by reminding us that we would be 30 when these kindergarteners graduated. That time has passed! It made me realize how long I'd spent at Haverford and how much of an impact it had on me. I can still remember each teacher from first grade through graduation, and every single one helped me grow in some way.
What led you and your business partner to found Charm City Meadworks?
After several years of office jobs, I wanted to try something else. My now-business partner had gotten into beekeeping as a hobby. We were always talking about starting a meadery to make alcohol from the honey. We wrote a business plan that made more sense than we expected and started our business part-time, while keeping our "real jobs." It quickly became more successful than we imagined and we left our jobs within a year to do it full-time. Now three years later, our meads are in three states, and we will use close to 100,000 pounds of honey this year.
Everyone around you at Haverford wants you to succeed at whatever you're doing, so you should take advantage of it. Many of the best opportunities are outside of the classroom with different activities or groups of people.
What keeps you passionate about your work?
Most of my days are spent doing whatever needs to be done -- I both love and hate the unpredictability. Food and beverage trends move quickly, so as head of experiments and sales, I'm always trying out different ways to align our company with new trends and products. For example, we introduced one of the first meads available in cans. Our staff is a great group of creative people who are constantly coming up with ways to improve or better our business, and my work to keep them motivated and happy keeps me passionate about things. Making something where we get to see and hear about how much people are enjoying it on social media never gets old. It's a great feeling when someone goes to the effort of taking my product somewhere and then posts about it. If I can go to half the places my meads go, I'll be happy!
What lessons from Haverford do you carry with you, still?
Haverford provided an environment that encouraged me to be myself. This environment made me comfortable with who I was and also gave me the self-confidence that enabled me to start my own business.
I encourage students to try new things that they may not like. Everyone around you at Haverford wants you to succeed at whatever you're doing, so you should take advantage of it. Many of the best opportunities are outside of the classroom with different activities or groups of people, like epic benchball games or big projects in the woodshop.