Episode 1. Having a Big Dream
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Each of us has a big dream for our lives. In this program Berni is joined by a special guest – Peter Irvine who is the Managing Director of Gloria Jeans Coffees. Join them as they look at …
Each of us has some big dream for our lives. In today’s program I’m joined by a special guest – Peter Irvine who is the former Managing Director of Gloria Jeans Coffees.
It’s great to have your company again today. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at the whole issue of living out the dreams God puts in our hearts. Is it OK to have a dream? What does it feel like to go out of our comfort zones? How do we handle those difficult times along the way? If you’ve missed any of the programs, you can listen to them live on-line or order a CD, you can visit www.christianityworks.com. This week we are joined by a man who had a God-given dream since the mid-90s when he started the Gloria Jeans Coffees stores here in Australia. Peter Irvine is the Managing Director of Gloria Jeans Coffees. Peter, welcome.
Peter Irvine: Thank you, Berni.
Berni Dymet: Peter, tell us a bit about yourself. You come from an advertising background, don’t you?
Peter Irvine: That’s right. I worked in an advertising agency for just over thirty years. I started when I was just under 15 as a dispatch boy.
Berni Dymet: Literally, from the bottom.
Peter Irvine: That’s right. And in the last two years, I was Managing Director.
Berni Dymet: Well, it’s interesting. How do you get from the point of advertising to coffee?
Peter Irvine: Well, the last few years prior to finishing in advertising, I always felt that maybe God was putting something else into my spirit. I didn’t know what it was. But I still had to work faithfully at the job I was in and building that company until something would eventuate. I didn’t know whether it was me or whether it was Him. But then in 1995 our Home Fellowship leader spoke to Sue and me and said, “Are you interested in doing something different?” He was already in his own business importing tea and coffee. He had an opportunity from the U.S. to pick up Gloria Jeans. So, we decided to go over there and have a look at concept. We liked it; negotiated the deal and that started the process. I guess along the way, those two or three weeks leading into going there was more confirmation coming, from my point of view, when I got there. If it looked OK, we were going to do it.
Berni Dymet: So, did you have this unsettled feeling? You thought something else was happening but you didn’t know what.
Peter Irvine: It might not have been an unsettled feeling as much as whether God was birthing something different. Our whole aim was, “do we retire?” You look around in advertising, and there’s no one or very few people over 50. And you wonder whether they have been killed off.
Berni Dymet: You don’t look a day over 45.
Peter Irvine: Thank you. I’ll let my wife know. So, it’s a full on; it’s frustrating. But it’s a busy, stressful, occupation as much as we survived and thrived as an agency. We became one of the largest agencies in the country with some big clients like McDonalds and so on with 200 people in Sydney. So, you know, it’s a full-on company and extremely successful and still growing. But we wondered when my time finished there, what we were going to be able to do to be able to resource the kingdom. You know…
Berni Dymet: What do you mean by that? What does “resource the kingdom” mean?
Peter Irvine: Well, you’ve got to finance people who are out there, whether on the mission field or reaching out to people and helping those in need in the community. We could certainly do some of that after I’d finished in advertising. But to build a business that was based on biblical principles, with my partner, who had the same ideal and then to be able to resource supporting the community and missions and people who are out there at the “coal face” if you like and finance them in doing that.
Berni Dymet: Was that always part of the dream? Was it coffee first and that later or how did that come together?
Peter Irvine: Oh, I think that was first. Coffee was just an opportunity that came along, just to be able to build a retail chain, to be able to build finances that would grow over a period of time. Even after, long after, we may not be able to work one day, it would still be there generating income in the sense both parties didn’t need enormous amounts of money to live on because coming out of advertising we were fairly well off until we lost most of it in the business. But out of that came the opportunity to build resourcing and use the excess to be able to fund projects, ministry and so on.
Berni Dymet: OK. So, I guess you started to investigate this whole idea. And then, at some point, the reality of what you were doing must have cut in. And, at some point, you must have gone through the planning and said, “My goodness, to actually do this properly, it involves all of these things.” Do you remember that time and what that felt like?
Peter Irvine: Yes, and it’s still the same today. And we have 261 stores open around Australia.
Berni Dymet: Two hundred sixty-one
Peter Irvine: Around Australia.
Berni Dymet: That’s great.
Peter Irvine: It’s the same, but it’s at a different level. I tend to, at a stage in my life, no matter what it is, I make the decision to do something; and then I suddenly realize I’ve jumped off a cliff without a glider or parachute. Then I realize that I’ve got to start seeking God about the steps, the future, and start to, not just sit there or stand there, if you like, but actually start planning and building the idea that now has become a reality.
Berni Dymet: So, tell us about that. What role did God play in all of this nitty-gritty, making it happen for you?
Peter Irvine: Well, He plays a role in virtually all of it because He calls it into being, He births something in us, you know, it’s like a vision or a dream. And the Bible talks about having dreams or visions but this was a practical one. I always had this idea. It was nothing to do with anything. But you walk around shopping centers and say, “It would be good to have a retail chain.” For what reason, you don’t know. So, there was something there that I never thought I would ever do in my lifetime, and here we are we have it. Then, you know, the ideas, as you have time with Him, or go out walking or jogging in the morning, that’s when He births ideas.
My partner spends a lot of time on his side in prayer and seeking God for decisions: putting on boards whoever should be on those boards, how we should grow the business, when we should expand, how many stores we should open the next year. And what a lot of people misunderstand is that a lot of the business books that are written are based on biblical principles. People writing them may not always understand that. In fact, many of them only copy other people; they’ve never done it themselves. But if you read the books of people who have actually been out there and done it, it gives inspiration and direction. I believe God speaks through those ideas that they have which, in the end, all come out of Scripture anyway.
Berni Dymet: So, to hear you talking about it like this, for you, am I right in saying that it wasn’t some “out there” really spiritual experience, it was a really practical, nitty-gritty thing of God getting involved? Is that how it was for you?
Peter Irvine: Yes, most definitely. He provides that spark. And, I believe, in all of us because God has a plan and a destiny for all of us. And if you look at the Bible nowhere does it say that we are to retire. We might finish a job somewhere, and we move on in some way. Some people might go into full-time ministry; some might help ministry; some might move on to another job, you know. But when His people decided to settle down, He moved them out and pulled them down because He had more things to conquer. He had more things to do. He wanted them to be an influence to other nations. He wanted them to reach out to other people. And we’re called to be the same and do the same things.
Berni Dymet: That’s fabulous. Now, at this point in time, I understand from reading the Financial Review that you have taken over Gloria Jeans globally. Is that right?
Peter Irvine: That’s correct. Earlier this year, the transaction was finalized. It started late in 2003 when we approached the Americans because, in discussions with my partner, we thought, Well, our ten-year renewal comes up in 2006. Based on a formula, there’s quite a big renewal. We didn’t expect to have this many stores open. And we felt, why don’t we try and buy back the birthright, in a sense, because we birthed this in this country. And also they could always sell to someone else who was not a friendly partner and not renew it so our franchisees and we won’t have something that’s of any value. Well, the progress, through the discussions, went to the point of actually buying the brand worldwide. So, we actually own it for every country. The U.S. now reports to us. All that revenue that went into the U.S. now comes back to Australia.
I mean our aim with this was not just to protect us and the franchisees but to also be able to push out our ministries, we are supporting, worldwide. For example, like Mercy Ministries, dealing with young women as they open homes in other countries. And they are opening a home in the U.K. We are just about to sign the master franchise for the U.K. We’ll be able to link them with Mercy to start building awareness for Mercy and fundraising through money boxes. So, the giving, supporting ministries, is, in a sense, money. But it is actually providing a platform for them to build their name out in the community as well.
Berni Dymet: That’s really great! I love what you said there that you never expected to have as many stores. And my hunch is that you probably didn’t expect to be buying the global brand either.
Peter Irvine: That’s right.
Berni Dymet: So, it’s just fabulous to see what God has done. Listen, when we catch up tomorrow, I really would like to talk to you about what you felt that you were good at, what gift you brought to the table and what role that played in deciding to do Gloria Jeans Coffees.
Let’s catch up again tomorrow.
Peter Irvine: Thank you.
Berni Dymet: Our prayer is that God’s really blessed you in our time together today.