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The Daily Grind

In an industry of high-visibility brand names, they don't have one. So how does this family's coffee company stay in business?

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This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Take one post-grad challenging the theory of Father Knows Best paired with a sister who can sell anything to anyone. Throw that familial fire into a ring with the champs of not only the instant coffee domain but the grocery world, and what do you get? A ferocious battle from underdogs full of determination. They might not win the match--in fact, they accept that's nearly impossible. But they know how to survive. And until they're actually pinned, defeat will not be in their vocabulary.

Meet the team members of Ryan Coffee Co., the San Leandro, California, maker of Victorian House Concentrated Coffee: Greg Ryan Jr., 36, president and CEO; sister Heather Ryan-Dubé, 35, head of sales and marketing; and their father Greg Ryan Sr., 64, head of institutional sales and licensing. Sounds ultra-professional for your average family-owned business--but then again, typical family-owned ventures tend to steer clear of markets dominated by Kraft Foods Inc., Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, the largest food company in the world.

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