Like Father, Like Son

Changing of The Guard

Monday, October 2009 - Steve Aronson

This is my last column as president of Café Britt Coffee Corporation. I resigned my post as chairman of the board this month. My son, Philippe Aronson, has taken over.

Philippe began handing out coffee samples at the airport here when he was a teenager. He’s worked in the coffee business in Seattle, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru and of course Costa Rica. He’s responsible for our expansion into Peru and Chile. He’s ready.

Another of my sons, Ben Aronson, is already in charge of company IT operations. His teenage experience was in the light and sound booth in our theater, and after graduating as an engineer; he redesigned and modernized our factories and warehouse systems.

Britt’s longtime chief executive officer, Pablo Vargas, will continue at the day to day helm, ably helped by our two country managers, Jose Vasquez and Herberth Morales… Pablo’s words will be the ones you will see in future columns.

I have to admit that it’s sort of hard for me not to run things. I’ve been running companies for over 30 years, even before Café Britt. But part of that privilege is knowing when it’s time to move on.

It’s time to let these younger men take the lead.  And as long as I’m the boss, it’s sort of hard for that to happen.

I’ve always been the entrepreneurial guy.  At 62, I’ve got to say I still am, and plan to be for a while. My title and Britt nametag – will change to “Founder” – a post from which I can never resign.

But I feel my mission at Britt is accomplished. I have other ideas and projects that have taken up more of my time over the past two years.

One is the “PROPARQUES” project which helps Costa Rica’s National Parks to be self sustaining. (, another is my involvement in introducing the IB high school curriculum into public schools.  (

With such competent leadership in place at Britt, I can confidently concentrate on these projects.

My departure very nearly coincides with another milestone for Café Britt – our 25th anniversary in 2010.

We’re planning a year’s worth of festivities to celebrate, including a special “Anniversary Blend” coffee and regular sweepstakes for shoppers who buy Britt at our local AutoMercado supermarkets. Winners will get things like free mini vacations, fine restaurant meals and visits to area attractions. This is an appropriate time to move on.

It’s been a great run. I started the company with a revolutionary product and concept – gourmet coffee roasted in its country of origin and sold in Costa Rica when all other gourmet coffees were exported.

Our list of firsts as a young company is huge – first Internet-based mail order service, first-of-its-kind CoffeeTour. Our line of chocolates was a first and remains unique.  

I am sure that the next 25 years will be as exciting. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years. You’re still in the best of hands. I’m sure of it.

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Corcovado National Park

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