Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Echo Sample

Because Augsburg prides itself on its community engagement, leadership and vocation, it is gratifying to see Auggies who have long since graduated doing their part to spread Augsburg’s mission in their professional careers around the country and the globe.

Recently the Echo received a message from a retired Augsburg Professor, Lyla Anderegg, telling us about one Augsburg Alum in particular who is faithfully representing Augsburg’s mission in much warmer part of the country. His name is John Ennen and he is running a small chain of coffee shops in McKinney, Texas. In an interview with the Echo, Ennen tells about his experience at Augsburg, what brought him to Texas and his hopes for the future of his family business.

                Ennen is a Minnesota native who grew up in Minneapolis. His family owned and operated the Ennen Supermarket formerly located where the Target Center now stands in downtown Minneapolis. Ennen attended what is now Totino Grace High School and started his college career at the University of Minnesota.

Turned off by the extremely large class sizes at the University, Ennen transferred to Augsburg in 1981 where his younger brother Bill Ennen was also studying. He mentioned that he and his brother often engaged in friendly competitions to see who could earn the highest grades. Ennen specifically recalled a course they both took at Hamline through the ACTC program in which they each strived to score the higher grade. “We both got A’s,” Ennen said.

                Ennen studied business at Augsburg at a time when the business program was just starting out. In 1981, the business degree was possible largely in part to the consortium program (ACTC) which allowed him to take many of his business courses at other schools while still getting the Liberal Arts Foundation at Augsburg. Ennen also received minors in Psychology and Economics. Ennen attributes his psychology interests to his respect for Professor Anderegg, with whom he took five courses to receive his minor.

                “[Anderegg was] one of my favorite professors and the reason I hung around and got my minor in psychology…she had a great perspective on involvement in social causes,” Ennen said. “A lot of what she taught became a part of me.” Ennen mentioned that he and Anderegg still keep in touch and that she recently attended a surprise party of his in Minnesota.

                Ennen finished his degree at Augsburg in 1984 and took a job in Canon Falls for almost two years. He then sought an MBA in Texas which eventually brought him to the Historic town of McKinney. After receiving his Master’s degree Ennen entered the corporate world working for several Fortune 100 companies. He met his wife Mary while they were both working for the Four Seasons Hotel Corporation. 

                With the help of Mary’s background in Architecture, the Ennens developed and launched their first coffee shop in McKinney called Coffee N Cream. This coffee shop features high end coffee served fresh or in take-home bags as well as Blue Bell tm brand ice cream, a flagship brand of Texas. Coffee N Cream is also a friendly place to sit and enjoy free Wi-Fi internet access.

                Ennen says this whole coffee shop idea started because “ [he] could never get sweets in the afternoons” at his job downtown. “The concept grew and took hold [from there],” he said.

                The Ennen’s now have two Coffee N Cream locations, one in McKinney and one in Allen, TX. They are also in the process of opening a second shop in Allen.

                “We want to prove the concept with this new [Allen] store,” says Ennen, “in the hopes of breaking out of corporate America.” Ennen’s concept for Coffee N Cream is to create an environment “where neighbors and friends meet,” this is also their store motto.

                The Echo asked Ennen if Augsburg has influenced him in his business career and his mission for Coffee N Cream.

                “Undoubtedly,” Ennen said. “Augsburg’s always been important to me.” Ennen says that Augsburg has really stuck with him over the past twenty years. He and his wife are dedicated to serving their community through their faith and their involvement in charities. They see Coffee N Cream as a way to give back to the community while becoming an important part of the community.

                Ennen looks to his father and grandfather’s example when running his business and wants to really bring the “family into [his] family owned business.” The Ennen’s have been married for nineteen years now and have four sons, Zachary, Jacob and twins Tanner and Garrett. Ennen’s Brother Bill, is now in the commercial real-estate development business in Naples, Florida.

                Coffee N Cream features the work of local artists and musicians in their shops and also started  a Beans for Troops program last holiday season where customers could purchase one-pound bags of their premium coffee to be shipped to the troops in Iraq. 

                The Echo asked Ennen if he had any advice for Augsburg’s graduating class this year.

Ennen replied, “[Don’t] be afraid to really pursue something that inspires you…[don’t] listen to nay-sayers,” and “step out and take that risk for reasons only you understand.”


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