Far from the courts, Dutch Bros’ Joth Ricci found his ideal team.
Joth Ricci is a natural leader with a multitude of impressive titles to his name, including CEO and board member for Dutch Bros, the Oregon-founded coffee chain.
Now, Ricci can add “OSU Alumni Fellow” to his list of achievements.
The Oregon State University Alumni Association is honoring the 1991 alum for his influential leadership and strategic vision in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion across Portland and surrounding areas. Since 1988, the OSUAA has annually recognized talented and passionate alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professions and positively impacted their communities.
Ricci has led several Pacific Northwest companies including roles as President and CEO of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, President and CEO of Adelsheim Vineyards and is currently the CEO of Dutch Bros, where he led the company through an initial public stock offering (IPO) process in 2021. An example of leadership and vision for the business community, he is currently Chair of the Oregon Business Council. Ricci is also the co-founder of TASTE for Equity, a nonprofit that supports, promotes and inspires action for equity advances; and is a Governor appointee to the State of Oregon’s Racial Justice Council.
At OSU, he is a frequent student and young alumni mentor, is a past president of the Oregon State Alumni Association, served on the College of Education’s Alumni and Friends Leadership Circle and currently sits on the Food Science Advisory Board for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.
Read the full story below about Ricci’s time at Oregon State, his professional background and his approach to leadership.
You can engage in conversation with Ricci and the rest of the 2023 Alumni Fellows honorees at a virtual celebration on April 11. Register today.
By Kevin Miller, '78
Ricci grew up in Corvallis. His parents were Beavers, so OSU was a natural choice. He started as a hotel, restaurant and tourism management major “because it sounded fun.” That ended when a manager where he was planning to intern warned him that the work was a grind and he’d hate it. He changed his major to business but soon found himself heading for a D in a crucial business law course.
“I loved it, all of it. I loved the strategy of basketball, I loved the noise of the gym,” he said. “But mostly it was the part about helping people grow. I loved developing people. I’ve had success leading companies because basketball and teaching are woven into everything I do.”
In 1988, at a Portland coaching clinic, Ricci learned from coaches including Jim Valvano, whose disciplined North Carolina State teams won against seemingly impossible odds; Jerry Tarkanian, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, legend whose Runnin’ Rebels dominated with speed and stifling defense; and the well-traveled Larry Brown, the only coach ever to win titles at the college and professional levels.
Ricci still has detailed, autographed notes from every session.
“I was the 20-year-old kid going up to Valvano and asking him about his full court zone press,” he said. “It changed my life.”
“Wooden is famous for teaching his players how to put on their socks so they wouldn’t get blisters,” Ricci said.
Ricci’s own attention to detail, his eagerness to learn and teach, and a growing sense of how to lead people served him well after graduation. On his way to Dutch Bros, while he never stopped coaching youth basketball, he worked at Johnson & Johnson and Columbia Distributing and led companies including Jones Soda, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Adelsheim Vineyard. Frequently he was the first non-family member to be the big boss at a family-owned company.
“We promote from within,” Ricci said. “Everybody who’s running a Dutch Bros has worked at a Dutch Bros for five to seven years. And we remind our people that in many cases, the best part of somebody’s day was when they visited a Dutch Bros.”
Ricci recently published a handbook that’s a master class on his management philosophy, “The System: Powers of Five.” Full of guided learning experiences and inspirational content, it’s not readily available in stores. (Learn more about it at thesystem.co.)
He serves as chairman of the Oregon Business Commission and uses his increasing clout to encourage established, mostly male and white-owned Portland businesses to partner with minority- and women-run nonprofits to fight homelessness and hunger.
Beaverton is home, although he’s a frequent visitor to Grants Pass and to Corvallis, where his son Joe and daughter Anna are students at Oregon State. They both study business, she as a grad student, and it’s quite possible that customers at a Corvallis campus Dutch Bros might get served by the CEO’s daughter.