Athens, Ga. – Michael Coles, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee Co. and a member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, will be guest speaker Thursday, Sept. 8, at a luncheon for the business community hosted by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company and a former Democratic candidate for both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, will deliver a speech titled “Taking on Goliath.” Caribou Coffee operates the second largest nonfranchised coffee chain in the United States, behind industry giant Starbucks.
The luncheon program is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be held at the Georgia Club in Statham.
Coles’ first entrepreneurial experience started in the 1970s with an initial investment of $8,000. He and business partner Arthur Karp opened the first Great American Cookie Company store in Georgia’s Perimeter Mall in 1977 and their first franchised store in 1978. The business grew to include more than 400 stores nationwide with $100 million in sales before it was sold in 1998 to Mrs. Fields. Five years later, Coles returned to the executive suite when he was named CEO of Caribou Coffee. The Minneapolis-based coffeehouse chain operates more than 300 stores in 13 states.
Coles’ generosity as a philanthropist includes his involvement with Manufacturer’s Hanover, the American Lung Association, Georgia Special Olympics, Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center, the Open Gate and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He served as honorary chairman of the North Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes in 1992 and 1993, and in 1997 was chairman of the Metro Atlanta Heart Association Walk-A-Thon.
In 1994, the Coles-Novak Family Foundation, founded by Coles and his wife, Donna, gave the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Foundation a gift of more than $1 million. In recognition of this gift and his other activities in support of the university and its business programs, the Michael J. Coles College of Business at KSU was named in his honor.
As a candidate for public office, Coles challenged Newt Gingrich for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and ran against Paul Coverdell for his U.S. Senate seat in 1998. He served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia in 1998. In 2001, Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Coles to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
The registration cost for the Terry Executive Speaker Series in Athens with Michael Coles is $30 per person and includes lunch. Advance registration is encouraged due to limited seating and can be completed online at http://www.terry.uga.edu/ttt-athens or by phone at 706/583-0397.
The Terry Executive Speaker Series in Athens is an outgrowth of the Terry College’s highly successful “Terry Third Thursday” speaker series in Atlanta, said Marie Garrison of the Terry College’s community relations office. The Athens series provides UGA alumni and business people from northeast Georgia with an opportunity to hear from accomplished leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators who are setting the agenda locally and globally.