Dennis and Anne Tank, founders of Tank Goodness
Homebase: St. Anthony, Minn.
The Scoop: After a few vacations to Tuscany, Dennis and Anne Tank began daydreaming about a family business that would allow them to adopt an Italianesque lifestyle where they could slow down and enjoy their growing boys, Jake and Sam, then 8 and 12.
It took them a while to come up with the concept behind Tank Goodness — hand-delivering Anne's cookies warm from the oven with milk from a local creamery — because they wanted it to be true to who they are. The time spent was worth it, however. The company and what it stands for couldn't be a more authentic reflection of the couple: honest, joyful and centered around family. Today, nearly a decade after its launch, Tank Goodness is licensed in five states, so you too may be able to get "goodness delivered in cookie form."
Valentine's Day is historically their busiest day of the year; they stop taking orders about a month in advance. But Dennis and Anne had a few minutes to sit down with us and share how they made their dream a reality.
What gave you the push to start your own business?
AT: I was in education and Dennis was in IT, and we wanted this flexible lifestyle, but we also wanted to show our sons that it's important to take risks. We wanted to show them it's OK to fail. You do your best and you learn along the way, and our brand represents both our successes and our failures. My big "ah-ha" moment was when Sam said he was proud of me. It was an affirmation of everything we've done.
DT: Success didn't come quick or easily. We now have about 1,200 customers locally, but we earned them one at a time. We deliver a good product with good service. Anne handwrites each of the messages. What keeps us going is that we put 100 percent of ourselves into the brand and haven't compromised along the way. I consider us a for-profit social-minded company.
What does "making" mean to you?
AT: Tank Goodness is about more than the warm cookie. It's about making memories. It's really about the shared moment. We've been able to be a part of customers' huge life moments, from births to even funerals.
DT: Making is really about the attempt. Our neighbor's daughter knows about our business, and she brought cookies to us the other day, saying "Shouldn't someone bring you cookies for a change?" It didn't matter if it was from scratch or semi-homemade.
Any good Valentine's Day memories?
AT: While Valentine's Day is our single busiest day of the year, the thought of doing something nice for someone is what Tank Goodness is all about, regardless of the day. Love is behind every cookie. Because we can only deliver so many cookies in one day, we'll deliver one day early with messages like, "I couldn't wait for Valentine's Day." There have been some racy messages over the years, though, and the trick is delivering them without anyone else reading them! (As to the details, her lips are still sealed. Now that's customer service!)
Do you have any makers who inspire you?
AT: We're inspired by everyday people who put themselves out there and create a business around their passions.
DT: Somehow we find like-minded business owners. For example, Jeremy Carroll at Latitude took on our small-scale box-printing project when we first got started and many others wouldn't. The neat thing about Latitude is the company gives 50 percent of its profits to fund food, water, shelter and education initiatives around the world. Each Tank Goodness box has a project code customers can use to see where the profit from the product they've purchased is spent.
DT: We're moving into more of a founder role as more and more locations are licensed. We want people to learn our story and then make it their own. We started with a cookie, but the licensing is really about the passion that other people can put into it.
AT: It's great to give people an affordable business opportunity, one where they don't have to start from scratch.