G.I. Joe turns coffee shop CEO: A CSP success story

By Angie PooleMay 7, 2021

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For Soldiers transitioning out of the military, finding success in the civilian workforce can be a daunting endeavor. Most people don’t know that while still on active duty the Army allows Soldiers up to six months of hands-on training in their chosen fields by way of the Career Skills Program.

With over 550,000 unemployed veterans nationwide, it is more important than ever to highlight America’s warriors and to encourage and inspire others to take advantage of this remarkable resource. Warriors like 1st Lt. William Hotop, platoon leader of the Arctic Wolves’ 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, who just wrapped up a CSP internship with local coffee powerhouse, North Pole Coffee Roasting Co., with dreams of one day owning his own café with his wife, Leah.

Thanks to the great leadership and support from battalion commander, Col. Richard Eaton, and company commander, Capt. Joshua May, Hotop was able to learn from some of the very best in the industry via North Pole Coffee Roasting Company CEO, Tom Bartels; master roaster, Sean Farris; and warehouse manager, Shane Kiester. Because of their tutelage, Hotop is confident he will be successful in this new venture, as he and Leah are now the proud new owners of Dynamo Coffee in Colorado Springs, Colorado: just down the street from the coffee shop where they first met, worked at through College, and where he eventually proposed! A true American love story come full circle.

His hands-on CSP experience taught him the ins-and-outs of owning his own business, from managing inventory to logistics, operations, distribution, admin, roasting and machine maintenance – all invaluable lessons that have helped build upon the Army’s eight-step training model and action-oriented leadership ingrained in Soldiers throughout their service.

Fortunately for Hotop, Bartels has a long history of supporting our men and women in uniform. During this last long deployment that took Fort Wainwright’s beloved 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment “Sugar Bears” to the fight, Bartels would ship their favorite flavored coffee to the front lines – only to find out later that the pilots and crew were eating the beans directly out of the bag, their coffee is that good! A giant American flag sent home as a thank you from the unit hangs in the North Pole Coffee Co. entrance. The owner displays it with pride, saying “it is because of what they do that we are able to do what we do.” A fine reminder to those of us making a living under the peace they provide.

When asked for comment, Hotop’s advice to fellow battle buddies transitioning out of the Army was short and sweet, “Make things happen – communicate what you want and go after it." A mentality he took with him on deployments to Iraq where he led Soldiers the same way: asking them what they wanted to do when they got back, figuring out a path to get there and doing his part to make it a reality.

We thank Hotop for his service to this country, and congratulate him on a job well done. Please check him out the next time you’re in Colorado Springs, and get your next cup-of-joe from a real G.I. Joe.

As with most milestones in life, despite all the personal hard work and sacrifice, we know we didn’t get there entirely on our own. Companies like Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Boeing and local partners like North Pole Coffee Roasting Co. right here in Fairbanks, Alaska, are making all the difference in the lives of America’s best and bravest. If your business would like to be a part of this incredible program, supporting the Troops while adding extraordinary talent to your team, please contact your local CSP Office.

Army Strong.

Courtesy article by Angie Poole, Fort Wainwright Career Skills Program