Corey Gerlach is one of our 20 Builders and owns a coffee roasting company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Name: Corey Gerlach
City/Town: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Where else can we connect with you online?
Who is your community?
Skateboarding, restauranteering, educationally diverse, highly motivated and proud, audio/visual artists with a severe case of the Midwest Nice.
Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.
Parenting, coffee, beat-making, email, research, scheming, accounting, parenting, mixing, scoring, coffee, phone, coffee (coffee roasting, coffee brewing, coffee drinking), wifey, whiskey, DJ, sleep, repeat.
What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?
If you could do any job, what would you do and why?
Audio Engineering/Coffee Roasting. Because I am obsessed, and fortunate enough that my objects of obsession with each can enable and fuels others to create.
What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the OTA region when it comes to your career?
In OTA, the living is easy and the market is fresh. And we have Internet.
At what intersection do you live your life?
I live at the intersection of Ambition and Realism.
Where do you think good ideas come from?
Life experience, conversation and, most importantly, organization.
What’s one current trend you think will change the world?
What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
Three-way tie: Self-employment, Marriage and Parenthood.
What’s your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
After compounding successes, my musical group once threw an event and no one showed up. I learned that it can happen, and I learned how not to feel defeated.
Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?
I want to lead by example all the other Sioux Falls kids who drop out of high school and don’t come from money, but have great ideas and the unique perspective of the “other,” which is what helps them to reach beyond the status quo and bring a certain freshness back to the community.
Who is the most connected person in your life, and what personal characteristics make him or her so well-connected?
My grandfather, Earl Gerlach. He has dementia now but was formerly a prominent figure in Sioux Falls real estate. I swear he knew the background and lineage of every family in Sioux Falls. The single personal characteristic responsible for this connection was that Earl always took time for people. He was sincerely interested. He asked questions. Good questions, not small talk. He followed up. I’m trying to learn from him.
Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?
My good friend Michael Haskett. He’s so stream-of-consciousness with his creativity, it makes me uncomfortable. It never occurs to him to NOT execute an idea because it is not funded/organized/complete/possible. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing. And the rest of the time, genius.
Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?
I have this friend, Lucy Albers. I don’t know how many Sioux Falls based associations she belongs to at this point, but if you even whisper the word “volunteer” within the city limits, she’s signed up and recruiting. But she’s quiet about it. It only comes up if you ask. She’s raking yards, taking tickets, picking up trash, baking, organizing, marketing, doing legwork. She impacts her community (mostly the local music scene and its sister endeavors) by example – but she also defrays costs of events and experiences that impact and motivate others.
The OTA Builders are a group of individuals who thrive on possibility and use all opportunities they are given to grow both in their careers and in their passions. We seek creatives who are tenacious and strong-willed movers and doers and are driven to make a significant impact on the people around them and the community they call home. These people recognize their talents and capabilities and find ways to continuously grow and learn from them. Why is this you?
I worked two jobs, beginning in high school, to buy my first set of turntables, and spent my time in between shifts teaching myself how to use them via VHS tapes of DJ battles. From there, I bought my first four track recorder and practiced on friends. One of the aforementioned jobs used to fund this endeavor was at a locally-owned coffee shop, at which I eventually apprenticed as a roaster. (I have continued roasting at least part-time ever since.) I was given the opportunity to work, and I used work to fund my passions, which I turned in to a career when I became a self-employed DJ/Producer/Audio Engineer (all the while roasting coffee recreationally). I used my talents and capabilities in music to co-create a rap group (Soulcrate Music) that has gone on numerous national tours and put out a solid 8 albums.
I find it hard to talk about myself, but if I can honestly reflect on just a recent weekend in Sioux Falls, 4 of the biggest events that took place in the city were based on the success of rap music in this town. I believe Soulcrate Music made rap music normal in Sioux Falls.
What project will you focus on as part of the OTA Builders Program?
My professional passion for this project is coffee. I have been successfully paying bills off of the music-related LLC and LLP that I started in 2008. I want to now bring my interest and experience working with coffee to the forefront:
The Breaks will be a local coffee roasting company committed to bringing freshly roasted high-quality Arabica coffee to Sioux Falls at affordable prices. The gaps we are filling in the current Sioux Falls market are as follows: attention to online marketing, subscription-based coffee, a design-focused product, and customer education (correct brewing methods, coffee origin and sourcing). The building has been purchased, the roaster has been bought and shipped, and the first green bean order is waiting on a click of a mouse. The project is a go, but I would love the support the OTA Builders Program could potentially offer.
What change / advancement do you hope to achieve as part of the OTA Builders Program?
I mentioned earlier my challenge with networking. I have trouble putting myself out there. I work from my basement. I work alone, in the dark, and I do it that way well. I’m completing this application on a whim. Someone who knows me well recommended I do so. I’ve been working independently since quitting the institution known as high school; I know I could benefit from connection with like-minded individuals and, in turn, I believe I have a lot to offer others.