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15/Feb Montana’s News Station KPAX – runs a story on a potential trade agreement with Korea

MT coffee container company draws global taste

Posted: Feb 14, 2012 10:31 PM by Breanna Roy (KPAX News)
Updated: Feb 15, 2012 8:48 AM

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQSydxeUnq8]

MISSOULA- People around the world drink coffee and tea, and now a Montana company hopes that universal appeal works for its travel cups, too.

“Everybody loves a good cup of coffee,” Trail Head owner Todd Frank said. He sells Planetary Design’s durable French presses at his store to avid backpackers, campers and hikers.

More than a decade ago, a group of Montanans set out to make the “cup” as good as the coffee…or the tea. And what began as the Big Sky Bistro, a durable plastic press, evolved into an entire line of stainless steel, portable presses.

“We basically took a good idea and made it better,” Planetary Design founder Scott Billadeau said.

They’re French presses with a Montana mentality: made for on-the-go steeping. One design even has a secret storage compartment on the bottom for a “second shot.” The design, and the line, has gone far beyond local buyers.

“It’s sorta fun to watch this local company that first came and showed us this cool product and, you know, we put ’em in the store and a year or two later you started seein’ ’em here or there,” Frank said. “Now it’s any major store you go into is gonna have ’em.”

Planetary Design partners with REI, Crate & Barrel, Williams & Sonoma and The Container Store and many others, and now the company hopes to get a grip on the international market in Korea.

“Korea’s a really interesting country right now because they are actually growing substantially in the coffee market and have become coffee connoisseurs just in the last three to five years,” Billadeau said. “We’re very much paying attention to that market as a new opportunity for us.”

Planetary Design was one of 100 featured Montana companies at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings at Big Sky last year. The company credits Sen. Max Baucus and the new Korea free trade agreement for its ability to reach out to Korea for half the cost.

“You know, a lot of people don’t necessarily think of MT as the cutting-edge product innovation state but we really are,” Billadeau said.

While Planetary Design presses on to sell to the world, it plans to stay grounded with its headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

Most of its products will still be made in China, but exported directly from Montana and Billadeau expects Planetary Design’s workforce of 35 people to potentially double in the coming years as a result of the Korea partnership.

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