Chris Tortu, 27
Owner and Sensei, Dobbs Ferry Karate; Co-Owner, Double Barrel Roasters
Many of our Wunderkinds are entrepreneurs, but few lay claim to running two successful businesses simultaneously. Chris Tortu’s first business, Dobbs Ferry Karate, was born from passion: He’d been a student for 20 years when he took the reins from his father after graduating from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a degree in business marketing. Since assuming control in 2009, Tortu has more than tripled the size of the operation to roughly 80 families by offering a summer camp and specialty classes targeting a wider age group. Meanwhile, his coffee-roasting business, Double Barrel Roasters, was more of an accident: He hated coffee but grew to love it during his first post-grad job working for a family friend in the coffee commodity/trading business. Double Barrel launched in 2011 with two partners, and today it provides coffee and its ancillary products (filters, equipment, etc.) to more than 75 clients.
• Tortu thought launching Double Barrel Roasters would be easy. Not so: “Starting the company was literally the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought I was just going to go out and sell coffee. Not so much. We started with no money and a tiny roaster in my partner’s basement. Now we have a warehouse, trucks, packaging, workers, and more than 75 clients that rely on us everyday. We went from just selling coffee to now selling teas, paper products, equipment leasing/service/repair, and private labeling coffee for clients.”
• What’s the key to his success? Says Tortu: “I cannot sit still. I also really like determining my own destiny. I never liked the idea that I’d sit behind a desk making a set salary.”
• Double Barrel clients include Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, Gaucho Grill in White Plains, Topps Bakery in Bronxville, and Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale.