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White Cane Coffee CEO Honored with Global CEO Excellence Award

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Erin Willman, CEO of White Cane Coffee, poses for photos after being awarded CEO Monthly’s Global CEO Excellence Award for Best Organic Coffee Manufacturing CEO (USA).

When Erin Willman was 15, she lost her sight.

When she was 22, she started her own business – White Cane Coffee – with headquarters at Third and Conewango avenues in Warren.

Now, she has been recognized by CEO Monthly with a Global CEO Excellence Award for Best Organic Coffee Manufacturing CEO (USA). Willman was presented her award and had a photo shoot for the magazine and other publications on Monday. Willman started the company to combine her love of coffee with her desire not to be held back by how other people felt she should be limited by her disability.

White Cane’s leadership has noticed some shortfalls among essentially all other brands.

“The coffee is amazing, but it’s not the only thing that distinguishes (White Cane) from the others in the industry,” said Bob Willman, Erin’s father and company manager. “The innovation – having braille on all the packaging… and her advocacy for the blind.”

“You shouldn’t need a sighted person to help you make your morning coffee,” Erin Willman said. “Why should people who are blind not be able to shop for themselves?”

Among the White Cane staff are eight people with disabilities. Providing living wage jobs to people with disabilities was always one of Willman’s goals.

“If you can change one person’s life, you are changing the world,” she said.

White Can Coffee is available in Warren and is on shelves in stores in several U.S. cities.

With the publicity from CEO Monthly, people from around the world will be learning about Willman and White Cane Coffee.

“We are a small business in a small town, getting this global attention,” she said.

That is helping to boost her efforts to move into the European market.

That might enable her to change more lives and change even more of the world.

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