In 1971 three friends decided that they would change the way the world drinks coffee forever.

In 1971 three friends decided that they would change the way the world drinks coffee forever. Following a trip to Italy, the team became captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience.

It is said that Italians have an unparalleled appreciation for the fine pleasures of daily life. They embrace everything with passion. Nothing is mediocre. The food of Italy is absolutely incredible. The architecture is breath-taking. The fashion still defines elegance all over the world.

Embracing the Italian culture, they discovered something amazing.

They discovered the ritual and the romance of the potential of coffee shops. They saw how popular they were, and how vibrant they could be. Each shop could have it’s own unique character, with one common thread: the camaraderie between the customers, they began to get to know each other well, and the barista running the shop, it was an engaging place. Customers could be laughing, talking and enjoying the moment with every sip. Customers became regulars and the routines comfortable and familiar.

At that time, there were 200,000 coffee bars in Italy and barely any in the rest of he world.

The thought of smells of coffee and roasting chestnuts and the light banter of political debate and the chatter of kids in school uniforms sparked interest.

In a coffee shop the energy pulses all around you. Music is sometimes playing. The potential of the interplay of people meeting for the first time, as well as people greeting friends they see every day at the bar.

They thought of a business that offered comfort, community, and a sense of extended family. Yet the customers probably wouldn’t know one another very well, except in the context of that coffee bar. Each coffee house would become was a neighbourhood gathering place, part of an established daily routine.

The connection to the people who loved coffee did not have to take place only in their homes, where they ground and brewed whole-bean coffee. What they did was unlock the romance and mystery of coffee, first hand, in coffee bars. The Italians understood the personal relationship that people could have to coffee, its social aspect.

Then they realised they were not in the coffee business serving people, they were in the people business serving coffee.

Instead of treating coffee as produce, something to be bagged and sent home with the groceries. They stayed went towards the heart and soul of what coffee has meant throughout the centuries.

Serving espresso drinks the Italian way would be the differentiating factor for the company I am talking about.

That s of course Starbucks. They re-created around the world the authentic Italian coffee bar culture, Starbucks would be a great experience, and not just a great retail store.

Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 27,339 coffee shops in the world, with 291,000 employees and an annual turnover of US$24.71 billion.

All built on the power of community.

Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection. Their mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time.

We need to realise we’re not in the stone worktop business serving people, we are in the people business serving stone worktops.

Why is community an important value to TMG?

Firstly, Michael and I are community people. Where we live in north London, we are known to many local schools, churches, and businesses. We believe in charity, we believe in caring for others and we believe in the value of investing in a community.

This business is not here to support one person, it’s here to support thousands of people and that’s not just through the 55 people working here, it’s the wives, husbands, parents, brothers, sisters and children that all benefit from this business. It supports our suppliers and even many of our customers who profit on the back of selling our products. It’s important to know that we are here for the many and not for the few.

That’s why you see people’s sons and daughters working here, people’s brothers and cousins and friends. This business is for all of us and our loved ones and our community.

We have a finite number of resources. Remember that when you come to us with a request. I want you the understand the value of a community. It’s an important thing to remember that when we make decisions for the business and each of you, that we have this in our minds.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to let a few great people leave the business and that’s because we put this community before any one individual. The Marble Group is bigger than any one person.

I guess this is one of the reasons why Ken Pereira is our second in command, he is the epitome of community, he has helped many people here personally by giving up his time and energy and he genuinely cares more about the staff here and this business than anyone else I know, he is actually one of the most unselfish people I have ever met.

It makes me happy that in the last 10 days many of you went to the pub around the corner for a drink and only last week I know the office team went out for dinner. Two things I want to say:

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.

And, If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

And for the new people, our logo represents a metaphorical cathedral that we are building within the peak for the M in TMG and the circle represents our community, that we are all in it together. I didn’t pick the logo, the rest of the staff here did.