History

  • The Dana Brown Charitable Trust was established in 1994 as a tribute to the legacy of the great philanthropist, entrepreneur, president and CEO of Safari Coffee, Dana Brown.

    A warm-hearted adventurer who loved St. Louis and its residents as an adopted family, Dana’s life and passions are reflected in the mission and impact of the trust.

     

  • Dana Brown is born to John Henry Brown and Martha Jane Prince Brown. He was the 11th of 12 children growing up in a 2 bedroom log cabin in the rural hills of Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. This is where Dana Brown decided he was going to make something of himself.

  • At age 14 with hardly a dollar to his name, Dana Brown left his home and started building his legacy.

    He wandered, worked, learned, and survived (frequently) on nothing but his wits.

  • After 4 years as a railroad worker, a lumberjack, a cowboy, and a hobo, Dana Brown landed in Toledo, Ohio and found his calling: sales for Fuller Brush Company.

  • After 6 months, Dana was promoted to branch manager.

  • Dana’s reputation as an excellent salesman began to precede him. A co-worker told his father about Dana’s ability to outsell all the other Fuller Brush men. As luck would have it, the father was the sales manager for Woolson Spice Company. Dana was offered a job.

    Within 2 years, Dana was running the whole company.

  • Dana moves to St. Louis, Missouri from Topeka, Kansas to run the coffee department of General Grocery Company, of which Manhattan Coffee Company was a major label.

    Within five years, Dana purchased Manhattan Coffee Company and served as its President.

  • Dana Brown brilliantly makes a connection between Safari travel and a unique approach to sourcing and marketing his coffee products. He begins to make frequent trips to Africa as a part of his innovative sales strategy.

    However, when Manhattan Coffee Company is purchased by Caine Coffee in the late 1950s, the new owners don’t want to reimburse Dana for his travels so he decides to establish his own brand.

  • Dana Brown establishes Dana Brown Private Brands, a place where Dana would find the perfect blend of safari, sales, and success.

    Over the next two decades, Dana Brown Private Brands and, more specifically, Safari Coffee would earn Dana a small fortune of over $40 million dollars.

  • Dana Brown builds his reputation as a well-known St. Louis personality through frequent television appearances representing his Safari Brand coffee.

    As quickly and loudly as Dana Brown amassed his considerable fortune and fame as a St. Louis adventurer and business owner, Dana’s quiet generosity was a lesser known narrative playing out only in Dana’s private life.

  • Dana Brown goes on his last safari.

  • Dana Brown passes away, establishing The Dana Brown Charitable Trust with the Mercantile Trust Company (now U.S. Bank).

  • Over the last 22 years, The Dana Brown Charitable Trust has honored Dana Brown’s legacy as an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and philanthropist by providing funding to organizations that reflect Dana’s living passion and commitment to children and animals.

    See the impact of Dana Brown’s legacy here.

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