Continuous refinement Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

When some people fail, they simply give up, but Mark Haertzen decided to learn from his mistakes, modify them and try again.

Back in the mid-1980s, Starbucks didn’t yet rule the java world, so Haertzen started a drive-through coffee shop. Soon after, he realized the intersection he built it at, while busy, wasn’t ideal because a large building prevented people from seeing it and making a quick turn into the lot.

Instead of giving up, he decided to take the java to them. He created a backpack contraption that would dispense coffee. He put on his “Rocket Man coffee-dispensing backpack” and headed out to revive tired morning commuters. Unfortunately, the police didn’t like this endeavor, so the intersection coffee business died.

Undeterred, Haertzen modified his dispensing backpack to accommodate coffee, soft drinks, beer and frozen drinks. He sought to get these dispensers on the backs of concession workers at major sporting events and arenas.

He soon saw barriers to growth, however, because arenas and stadiums didn’t want to invest in mobile concession equipment. They wanted to contract concession sales to outside vendors. With that thought, Rocket Man Inc. was born. Today, the company is a leading provider of walking vendor management services, and his people have appeared at the Olympics, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indy 500 and other professional sporting events.

He finally got it right, and now Haertzen continues refining his model as he prepares expansion endeavors into other markets to continue growing his business.

HOW TO REACH: Rocket Man Inc., (502) 222-1228 or