Conversations with Innovators — Q&A with Red River Tea Company
This week we are talking with Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Rick Scheer and Jeff Farris of the Red River Tea Company. Jeff and Rick met at the University of Oklahoma in 1987 and founded the company in 1996. They developed and patented the innovative one-cup system T-100 brewer, which was launched in convenience stores in the late 1990’s. Today, Red River Tea Company is an industry leader in the c-store channel and has continued to innovate beverages, equipment and processes. One of the latest innovations is TEAZZERS SQUEEZE®, a unique and refreshing “fresh-brewed” lemonade that is easily executed through existing commercial tea brewing equipment, eliminating significant labor demands for its customers.
1. How did the Red River Tea Company get started?
Red River Tea Company began over 20 years ago, when a personal observation turned into a professional passion. Jeff Farris worked for a frozen fruit-juice company selling and servicing equipment at convenience stores. An avid fan of fresh-brewed tea, Farris found iced tea options in convenience stores lacking or nonexistent, so he began exploring ways to bring a high-quality solution to market. He recruited his long-time friend Rick Scheer and the pair set out to revolutionize the tea business.
Rick and Jeff Farris were recently profiled in D Magazine and were selected as regional finalists in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016.
2. Most people don’t associate tea and innovation, but Red River Tea has changed the market for retail tea sales. How did the company do that?
Each of our products was founded with innovation in mind. How can we help c-stores serve fresh-brewed tea in a way that’s cost effective without sacrificing quality? We started with the patented T-100 innovation, which was unheard of at the time because of its “one cup at a time” platform, then we launched the starter kit methodology, then fresh-brewed flavored tea programs.
After we felt comfortable with our tea offerings, we thought about how we could use the current machines we sell our customers and create new beverages like “fresh squeezed” lemonade. We also have flavored teas, chai teas and frozen TEAZZERS FREEZZERS®.
3. I read that TEAZZERS® lemonade was featured in the Dallas Business Journal. What exactly is TEAZZERS®?
TEAZZERS® is a total tea-solution provider with a variety of platforms for tea and tea-based products. From the original innovation, the patented T-100 platform, to fresh-brewed in the traditional urn, to concentrated tea, to concentrate from the soda fountain, TEAZZERS® offers every conceivable solution.
4. Does Red River Tea Company have any new products in the pipeline? What’s next?
TEAZZERS SQUEEZE® is our newest revolutionary brewing process that eliminates the need to invest in additional equipment while satisfying customers’ thirst for the perfect glass of lemonade. The patent-pending puck formula – available in gelatin or frozen form – is simply placed in any commercial tea brewer, creating an easy and consistent process with minimal training for employees.
We’re also always on the lookout for what the next big drink might be and new flavors to add to our TEAZZERS® line of products.
5. What piece of advice would you give to a first-time entrepreneur starting out?
Keep the faith. Being an entrepreneur is hard, but if you keep taking steps forward you won’t believe how far you’ve come when you look back.
6. What’s your “one thing” that most drives each of your professional successes?
Innovation and targeting a market need.
About the Firm:
Klemchuk LLP is a litigation, intellectual property, transactional, and international business law firm dedicated to protecting innovation. The firm provides tailored legal solutions to industries including software, technology, retail, real estate, consumer goods, ecommerce, telecommunications, restaurant, energy, media, and professional services. The firm focuses on serving mid-market companies seeking long-term, value-added relationships with a law firm. Learn more about experiencing law practiced differently and our local counsel practice.
The firm publishes Intellectual Property Trends (latest developments in IP law), Conversations with Innovators (interviews with thought leaders), Leaders in Law (insights from law leaders), Culture Counts (thoughts on law firm culture and business), and Legal Insights (in-depth analysis of IP, litigation, transactional, and international law).