With some of our most challenging moments come our greatest opportunities for growth. You could say that’s a motto Skyler Dutton, co-owner of Thunder Coffee, lives by. The husband, dad of two boys, former police officer and business owner has certainly had his fair share of challenging experiences. But for him, seeing the opportunities amid turmoil has become a way of life.
“There are lots of us who have stumbled, fallen and gotten up a better person because of what we’ve gone through,” Skyler said. “I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I think a lot of good that has happened in my life has happened to me because of God’s continual grace and being sober for seven years.”
During the past seven years Skyler has encountered a few obstacles on his way from the police force to the world of coffee and business ownership. He experienced firsthand the destruction of alcohol abuse, left a job he knew and loved, moved to Williston to work in the oilfields, and was laid off from two jobs.
“It was an extremely humbling experience. I’d never in my life been in that position and then to have it happen twice was a shock to my ego. I wallowed for a while but eventually realized that I was capable of changing my path,” he said.
Those experiences, while challenging, provided character-building moments. The adaptability, resilience and determination he gained paired with his passion for helping others have all played an instrumental role in where he is today.
“I have never been in a position to positively impact so many people as I have through Thunder Coffee,” Skyler said. “Building relationships with people and serving the community are by far the most rewarding part of owning the business. Also, the team that we’ve been lucky enough to build is pretty incredible. We get to do some great things together. ”
Skyler co-owns Thunder Coffee with his wife Nicole and brother Dex. The team launched the business in 2017 as Fargo’s exclusive coffee caterer. Two years later, the team opened a brick and mortar shop in West Fargo.
Today, Skyler hopes his boys, Xander and Isaac, see the value in working hard and not being above any job. He also hopes that with each cup of coffee Thunder Coffee serves that sense of community among us is strengthened. Here’s more about Skyler.
What are the biggest challenges you and your wife face when working together?
This seems like a trick question, but I’ll proceed carefully. First, it can be a struggle to draw clear lines between work time and home time when your work is literally all over the house. We have to be intentional about setting aside time for activities that are not work related that allow us to just be us for a while.
Second, for whatever reason, it can be challenging to be patient with your significant other while working together. We have to find ways to talk through what we are feeling when we become short. Understanding each other’s communication style and personality (think enneagram numbers and love languages) and being willing to apologize are paramount to continuing to work together and understanding each other better in those moments. Although, most of the time when I’m impatient it's because I’m just hungry.
What’s your proudest moment as a parent?
Both boys have given me many reasons to be proud, but I’d have to say I’m most proud of how they aren’t afraid to be themselves and pursue their own interests. Although it can be (selfishly) frustrating at times, I love watching them develop their own interests and hobbies. I’ve always encouraged them to be authentic.
Xander decided he was done playing hockey after the eighth grade and finished as an assistant captain of his team. A few months later he tried out for the high school cheerleading team and spent his freshman year on the varsity cheer squad.
Isaac has always loved baking. When he was seven he sheepishly asked for an easy bake oven “for boys” for Christmas and today he is a very talented baker, making everything from cookies, to breads and bagels. Both boys never felt like they had to like what I like or conform to an activity and were free to pursue what makes them happy.
Biggest fear as an entrepreneur?
That I’ll make a poor leadership decision that will affect the wellbeing of my team or customers.
Biggest fear as a dad?
That my kids won’t understand that the sacrifices I had to make with my time were for the benefit of our quality of life.
What do you hope your kids learn from seeing family work together to build something great professionally?
I want them to understand that good things can happen when you are willing to do the work and surround yourself with great people and positive influences.
When you think about the future, what are you most excited about? Professionally and/or personally?
I’m excited to see the kind of young men Xander and Isaac will grow up to be. I’m excited to see just what we can accomplish with Thunder Coffee. We are always planning a next move and have some exciting collaborations on the horizon.