New and expanding: 112-year-old Red Diamond evolves, innovates

Red Diamond.jpg

Last year, Birmingham-based Red Diamond Coffee & Tea decided to make a change.

Since its founding 112 years ago, the company has dabbled in and out of the food service business, selling meat, fruit and vegetables to restaurants. In fact, the company was founded in 1906 as Donovan Provision Co. – it changed its name to Red Diamond two years later – but decided in 2017 to double down on its coffee and tea efforts, looking to expand in both markets and go to the next level with both products.

Last year the company expanded its facility footprint, adding a $1.2 million coffee and tea distribution center, which landed it on the Birmingham Business Alliance’s New and Expanding Industry List. Since the company decided to leave the food service business and focus on its drinks, it has continued innovating, launching its first ready-to-drink coffee product Fitz, a cold brew.

“We have been first in so many different things over the years – quart-size tea bags, brick coffee bags,” said Emily Wood Bowron, assistant vice president of strategic marketing for the company. “We really have continued to push the envelope as to how to make a better quality product and stay on top of trends. That includes new products, too. To be around 112 years, you’ve got to keep reinventing the wheel.”

Red Diamond’s beginnings on Morris Ave. as Donovan Provision Co. morphed into Red Diamond in 1908 when founder William Donovan renamed the company after the highest quality gem in existence. The company has been striving for the highest quality ever since – its motto is “Expect Perfection.” Since its beginnings in downtown Birmingham, the company has moved to its current location in Moody in St. Clair County.

“Red Diamond is one of the highest profile companies in our community,” said Moody mayor Joe Lee. “It is also one of Moody’s largest employers. Since Red Diamond’s grand opening in Moody in 2009, the company has been a fantastic corporate citizen and we are very proud that Red Diamond calls Moody home.”

The company is still a family company. Bowron is the fifth generation to work the business, making it the second oldest coffee and tea company to be run by the same family. Bowron is the daughter of CEO Bill Bowron, who is highly regarded as a leader in the Birmingham business community.

“Bill Bowron understands the importance of regionalism and working together,” said Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council. “He has helped our organization recruit companies from outside the state into our community and is a strong advocate for the advancement of the entire Birmingham region.”

Red Diamond’s products are found in grocery stores and restaurants across 48 states, and some of its 250 employees have been at the company for 25 years or more. Emily Wood Bowron said the company wants to see further growth and expansion and be around for years to come.

“If we are making people happy drinking good coffee and tea, if the Red Diamond brand is the go-to for that, that’s what matters to us,” she said. “At this point, we’re planning to be around for another 112 years.”