Upstate Mediation Center Announces 2023 Peacemaker Award

The Upstate Mediation Center (“UMC”) is pleased to announce the 2023 Peacemaker Award recipient is local business owner Gregory Ward.

Mr. Ward was nominated for his extraordinary work in founding Bridge City Coffee, a transformative coffee shop and roaster that redefines the concept of a “for profit” business.  He accomplished this with a people-centric, three-tier impact-based business model: fostering meaningful relationships with coffee bean farmers, prioritizing staff development with a growth mindset, active empathy, and a pursuit of excellence, and serving as a bridge for non-profit community partners.  The name “Bridge City” symbolizes Mr. Ward’s unwavering commitment to fostering healing, unity, and community building through diverse initiatives.  This vision is encapsulated in Bridge City’s slogan “meet in the middle,” which aims to create a more vibrant and inclusive Greenville for all.

Mr. Ward is truly living Bridge City Coffee’s mission to build value and hope in people through coffee. Mr. Ward recently stated,

“Seeing the impact of what we do on people’s lives has honestly been the fuel that keeps me going through all the fears, failures, and challenges.”

Mr. Ward further said, “On a daily, more involved level, we are committed to positively impacting our beautifully complex industry by structuring our entire business in a way that is built to help our people discover the best of who they are and learn how to live in that. We do that through maintaining an extremely high retention rate, one that is high for any industry, but especially ours. In over 3 years, we have retained 80% of our staff. Of the 20% who have moved on, 30% have gone on to promotions in the coffee industry and approximately 40% have moved into promotions for their own professional careers. With the 80% of employees we have retained, we provided promotions towards shift leading and management. It’s worth noting that not only did we retain all of our staff through the entirety of COVID, we also provided PTO and created paid work opportunities when we had forced closures. We know everyone won’t stay with us forever and in light of that do our best to help our people leave well-equipped when their time with us ends. We want to see them succeed even if it’s not with us. One of our goals is to help provide a picture of truly healthy and empowering employment for other businesses to be inspired by. We also want people who work with us to impact their coworkers and the industry long after leaving Bridge City.”

Mr. Ward’s name will be added to a plaque recognizing past Peacemakers at the Peacemaker Bench in Cleveland Park. The Peacemaker Bench was commissioned in 2019 by UMC and created by Greenville artisan blacksmith Ryan Calloway.

The Peacemaker Award will be presented at UMC’s Peacemaker Celebration on Tuesday, October 17, 2023 at Endeavor.