Royal_CupWilliam E. Smith, Jr., chairman of the board of Royal Cup Coffee, discussed his company’s strategy on November 15, 2011 with students in the combined capstone and MBA class, “Strategic Management: Conversations With CEOs.”

In his first meeting with a School of Business class, Smith described the three parts of Royal Cup’s strategy to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage: first, to take care of the customer, always; second, to partner with ethical and successful users of their coffee with good brand names such as Ritz-Carlton, Holiday Inns and Carrabba’s Italian Grill; and (3) to hire the right people.

Royal Cup is a privately-owned company owned by Mr. Smith’s family for over sixty years. The company is headquartered in Birmingham but does business throughout the United States.

Students studied a public company well-known in the coffee business, Green Mountain Coffee Company, and compared its strategy to that at Royal Cup. All students received a complimentary bag of Royal Cup coffee samples!

Mr. Smith has been an extraordinary servant leader not only for Royal Cup but also in the communities the company serves. For example, Smith founded the A+ Education Partnership, which advocates for great schools for children in Alabama. 

“Strategic Management: Conversations with CEOs” is taught by Professors Eddie Friend and Stephen Yoder, and features visits from CEOs of public or other large complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.

[Pictured left to right (students holding their Royal Cup coffee samples!): Brett Harris, Frances Watts, Mr. Smith, Michelle Carter, Michaela Prescott, Brandon Haley]