Carl Churchill Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java | High Speed Low Drag Podcast

vetrepreneur-mag-coverCarl Churchill is Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java. The company is a retailer of premium coffee to consumers. They deliver coffee with free shipping options directly to your front door and every bag bought sends a cup of coffee to a deployed service member.

HSLD: Besides the little background that we’ve given about you, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Carl: I am a 21-year military veteran. I joined the army when I was 17. I subsequently won a ROTC scholarship and ended up going to college on that scholarship and became an officer upon graduation.

I did 9 years active duty, took a year off, missed it and joined the reserves to finish out another 12 years.

During those 12 years in the reserves I was in a number of startup companies mostly in the tech and telecom sector and then moved into the construction mortgage sector.

During the recession the company I was a partner in went down. My wife and I sat down and decided that we were going to get into the social entrepreneurship arena. We asked ourselves what we were passionate about and that was the military and great craft premium coffee and so we came up with the concept for Lock N’ Load Java.

HSLD: Let’s start with your success quote. What is it?

I’m going to give you two success quotes- both of them from Winston Churchill and both of them talk about dealing with obstacles.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Never never never give up.


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HSLD: Let’s focus on your military experience. Tell us a story of your most pivotal moment in the US army and share with us some of the lessons you learned.

Carl: I think for anybody that has served in the military and the opportunity to serve in combat something that you never forget is the first time that somebody is firing at you in anger.

The first time I had that was in Central America in the mid-80s. I was in a helicopter and we were flying out of Honduras into El Salvador. I had only been in the country for 2 to 3 weeks at that point.

Up to that point it was cool, it was an adventure. There were a lot of neat things happening and we really felt like we were doing good work.

But this time when we got on the helicopter, we were told that things were about to get real here. We were going to be going over an active area and we needed to understand that we could be met with active fire.

Sure enough as we crossed over the region we began taking firing rounds. We actually had one bullet strike the helicopter.

For me it just crystalized the fact that you can either be a passenger in life or you can be engaged and present and understand that this is real.

From that single experience I went on to more combat situations but from that if someone told me that things were falling apart or it was a bad day, I always said that things could be much worse- that someone could be shooting at us right now.

“Let’s just put our heads in the game and understand and learn from this situation and keep on moving forward.”



 HSLD: Let’s focus on your transition out and the failures, challenges and lessons you got from it.

 Carl: The first transition out was difficult. I think it’s more difficult to transition out of active duty into the civilian sector.

As I got out of the military I just expected the same high level of commitment, discipline and mission focus that I’d had with my team in the military.

The first time I had my team and I said “hey this is going to be a late night because we have something going on”. People kind of looked at the ground and said that they had other things going on.

I suddenly realized that I wasn’t in the military anymore. For me, finding the balance between intensity and building consensus and commitment- that was something that took me a little bit of time.

Once you understand that this thing isn’t the same as in the military then that’s a great advantage to have.

What I’ve learned is that you have to work twice as hard, that the runway will be twice as long before you get lift.


HSLD: What was your AHA moment?

Carl: When I was looking at the coffee business I started thinking about the trends and making the assessment from that.

It was apparent that in this country there was this trend on quality of food. You see it in craft beers and now craft coffee. People want quality.

When we first started out we sent coffee to friends and family. In that first year we got an email from somebody and it was a great email. It sort of summarized everything for us.

There is more than just business. There’s more than just making money. It’s all about mission.


HSLD: What’s the one thing that you’re most fired up about today

Carl: We now have the opportunity to leverage our business with a business model. I believe that our next step is to go into the recurring order business.

We believe that if we can harness people to just put quality coffee on auto pilot and have quality coffee delivered to their front door then we can leverage that revenue and do more for the military community.


Carl’s Lighting Round Answers


  • What is the most difficult adjustment you had to make to the civilian world? Having people telling me why things cannot be done.
  • What is the best business advice that you can pass along to people that are making their transition now? Use your network. Support other veteran businesses. Reach out and get advice from them.
  • What is one of your habits that you believe contribute to your success? Discipline and consistent effort.
  • What is the biggest generalization that you had to overcome in the civilian world? Everybody coming out of the military is bull-headed.
  • If you can recommend one book what would it be? Tribes by Seth Godin.
  • What’s the best way that we can find you? Reach me on We’re there on Instagram, facebook and twitter. Anyone that wants to contact me can email me at


“Begin with the end in mind and drink a lot of coffee for inspiration”