Eric Townsend has always held a servant's heart. Working as a public servant in nearly every capacity he could for 2 decades, he has experienced first hand the conditions that first responders and veterans endure. When he set out to create a business he knew he needed to serve a greater mission. 5 Stone is the result of years of seeing first responders and veterans struggle with mental health, visibility, training and tough work environments.
A Man With A Mission
5 Stone was built around the idea that someone needs to care for those who care. Their mission statement is clear:
…we know service and sacrifice. With that dedication to serving other comes the sacrifices only a few can relate to. Repeated exposure to traumatic events, disasters, trauma, death, and lack of closure are just to name a few. The debt paid for such tolls placed on not only ourselves, but our families, friends, and loved ones are what we try to bring awareness to here at 5 Stone
He is building a social media presence through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. But he does not stop at awareness. Employees teach self-protection, tactical skills and self-aid to first responders, healthcare workers, students, and hold courses at public areas like local libraries to give back to their communities across Kentucky. 5 Stones brings the mission to the Commonwealth. Townsend also brings something else - coffee!
A Cup of Compassion
You might think a cup of coffee is a pretty simple, day to day part of life. But to Townsend it is a key part of his business model. In order to fund outreach and education, 5 Stone sells coffee modeled around the needs of their customer base. 5 Stone Frontline Coffee is another way that the company handles visibility. The brand is also a Kentucky Proud brand. The coffee is roasted in Kentucky and Townsend is a part of every step. He visits with local roasters, tastes flavors and designs blends around who they serve. With flavors like "Healthcare Blend", "Firehouse Blend", "Southern Pecan" and even a decaf signature roast, 5 Stone coffee covers the gamut that coffee enthusiasts need to get their days going.
A portion of every sale supports the business, but an even greater portion goes back to service members. 5 Stone supports the families of fallen frontline workers and service members. They create community outreach training programs that empower Kentuckians to protect themselves. They also focus on women with a special program for threat reduction and self-protection. 5 Stone also offers industrial and site safety surveys, industrial hazard awareness and OSHA compliant training, along with leadership growth courses.
In His Own Words
I was able to catch up with Townsend for an interview this week and he was so generous with sharing the 5 Stone story and a bit about himself.
What made you start 5 Stone?
On Dec 31st, 2019, while sitting at my kitchen table, I felt this overwhelming calling to create a company called 5 Stone. The goal was to “Prepare, Respond, Serve” which is our motto. My goals were to help train and develop individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities to be prepared to respond and serve to situations such as acts of violence and medical emergencies. I also had a strong calling to raise awareness for unseen scars suffered by the frontline and for the needs suffered by their families. With years of experience on the frontline as well as training some of the nation’s elite, I knew I had a first hand account of the needs.
The company was named “5 Stone” based of the biblical story of David and Goliath. David did not go the frontlines to fight a giant; however, he went to serve his brothers who were on the frontlines fighting in war. While he was there, he unexpectedly took up the fight and faced Goliath on the frontlines. David picked up 5 stones (because supposedly Goliath had 4 brothers) and he was prepared to respond and serve. My years of professional experience as a medical provider, ER/Flight nurse, federal law enforcement officer, fire/special operations rescue tech, and defense instructor allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to be prepared to respond and serve. I gathered a team of like-minded professionals to join 5 Stone who we call the “5 Stone Pro Staff” that brings decades of experience in their respective fields. Together our expertise provides advanced professional training and support from professionals with real world experience.
COVID-19 hit in 2020 and eliminated in-person training. We decided to start doing podcasts to help grow the awareness of our mission. After a podcast with a prominent coffee business owner, he asked us to consider selling coffee to raise funds for our mission and help provide training. I decided to give it a try and at that moment, 5 Stone Frontline Coffee was born! I heard that approximately 80% of the adult population in the U.S. drink Coffee, and I figured that nearly 100% have been impacted in some way by a frontline worker or service member, so that would be our new customer base. 5 Stone Frontline Coffee was now our way to reach those in need!
5 Stone Frontline Coffee has been the catalyst for our growth by expanding our customer base, awareness of our mission, and ability to serve others. Our goal is to have 5 Stone and 5 Stone Frontline Coffee a common household name as people across the globe begin to understand and support our mission at home which now spans across the globe. We want people to drink a cup of 5 Stone Frontline Coffee, wear a 5 Stone Shirt, hat, or patch with pride knowing they are supporting the Frontlines and Missions on the Frontlines!
What positives and givebacks have been able to do?
Since starting 5 Stone Frontline Coffee we have been able to assist in various ways. We have been asked to join up with various mission teams traveling across the world doing mission and humanitarian works for those in need. We have provided free training to teams traveling to dangerous areas in other countries to help them be more prepared to respond and serve in those situations.
We have been blessed to able to donate 5 Stone Frontline Coffee and raise funds for various causes. One of our most proud missions to support is the Kentucky Brotherhood Ride. First responders ride bicycles across the state and raise funds for the families of fallen frontline workers. We were able to provide free coffee for them during their ride last year and donate to the families in need and are doing it again this year!
We set up in Alabama and helped support Pizza & Pew that helps raise awareness and friendly sport shooting competition for Veterans with PTSD. This was a great opportunity that we were please to be a part of and look forward to more events with them.
We have also been able to donate coffee to fundraiser auctions for a frontline worker who contracted COVID-19 and was severely physically and financially impacted. The community came together donating several items and helped this long time public servant and his family.
How do you see the company developing in the future?
I say this with a humble heart and sincere attitude… there are no limits in sight for 5 Stone. In just a couple years we have somehow grown from a small training company who had no way to train due to COVID-19 to a 5 Stone Global Outreach Program! It wasn’t me that did this. It was God and our supporters. God has put this together and I am simply following HIS orders and guidance. If it is God’s will to continue to grow 5 Stone so we can continue to serve those across this Earth, then I want to be used accordingly.
We are currently saving to obtain our new coffee bags. As we have grown, we now need to get full digitally printed coffee so we can place our coffee in larger store chains. This is a financial challenge to get started but once we get to this next step, we hope that it will take us to new levels of growth and ability to help even more people.