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A conversation with Jeff Deitchler

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at 11:15 p.m.

Jeff Deitchler initially was, as he puts it, the lone implant from Hall’s Culligan Water when C.R. Hall acquired Coffee Time, Prestige Coffee Systems and Riffel’s Coffee in 2007.

Eight months later, he was named general manager of the coffee side, which Hall knew he would have to rename even before he bought it.

All three brands were well known in Kansas but were quite a mouthful.

“It’s kind of hard to market a company with three different names,” Deitchler said.

In 2008, the company was renamed PrairieFire Coffee Roasters.

PrairieFire has employees in seven states and does business in an additional four.

How was the company’s rebranding received?

You would be surprised at how successful that name has been. … Everything about our image changed from a marketing standpoint.

The trucks have particularly gotten attention, right?

While we have a limited number of company vehicles here in the Wichita area, we hear a lot from people in the community that they see a lot of our vehicles in the area. … I have had people tell me that they have estimated that we maybe had 30-plus vehicles running around Wichita. … We really have 12. … It’s just that people notice it when it’s out there. It just appears as though … we’re far more prominent than what we really are.

That’s how successful it’s been.

How has your company changed since then?

We have grown over the last few years. We’ve ventured into a couple of different segments of the coffee business with signing some distribution agreements with some wholesalers that are outside of the trade area that we service directly.

What’s next for the business?

One of our successful modes of growth in the Hall’s companies has been through acquisition. We’re always looking at that as well as the organic growth from within.

Is this the best time in the history of coffee to be in the business?

There’s never a bad day to be in the coffee business. The coffee business is a lot of fun. There’s never a shortage of coffee drinkers. There’s always something different. It’s a challenge buying green (unroasted) coffee on the open market. It’s the second most traded commodity in the world in dollars behind oil, so every day is a challenge to buy right.

Which do you prefer, coffee or water?

There’s a romance for both. … In the water business, we’re always trying to make water tasteless, and the coffee business is just the opposite.

Which one do you prefer selling?

I really am enjoying the coffee industry. There’s a lot of things you can do with coffee. There are a lot of different ways to roast it. There are a lot of different ways to blend it. A lot of different ways to brew it.

What’s your favorite flavor?

I don’t know if “flavor” would be the right word. … There’s a bunch of different origins, varietals.

I’m kind of a traditional black coffee drinker.

What’s your favorite varietal?

One hundred percent Guatemalan.

How many kinds of coffee does PrairieFire sell?

It really is endless. We can get anything that’s grown anywhere in the world.

There’s a typical number you deliver, though, right?

We package and deliver 24 different varieties.

Anything keep you up at night?

No.

Not even coffee?

Not selling enough coffee keeps me up at night, but coffee itself does not.

What’s something few people know about you?

Deep down, someday I would like to own my own restaurant bar. I like to cook. … That’s something I’ve always kind of wanted to do. Own my own neighborhood place.

Will you really do it?

Someday, that will happen.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com.

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