The old advertising slogan, “We will sell no wine before its time,” aptly pairs with Dan Glisky’s expansion plans. As CEO and managing partner of Woodberry Wine in Troy, the entrepreneur is in no hurry to grow his distribution and import business until the overall operation can fully support entering new markets.
“After being in the technology sector with various businesses, I was looking for a new endeavor and always had a passion for wine,” says Glisky, who is also managing partner and CEO of Kindred Vines Import Co. in Troy. “When I came across the opportunity to acquire Woodberry Wine and Kindred Vines, the previous owner wasn’t going to sell it to (just) anyone. He wanted someone that knew and appreciated fine wine.”
Patience was another factor in the acquisition. After a year of negotiations, Glisky took over ownership at the end of 2013. Last year, the overall operation grew 14 percent in the 12 states it serves, including Michigan. This year, Woodberry and Kindred will enter Wisconsin, build up more online sales, and hire five more people.
“We want to be strong regionally before we go national,” Glisky says. “We need to build up our internal infrastructure so that our growth is managed properly. If you expand too quickly — and I know most everyone says that’s a great problem to have — the challenge becomes keeping up with that growth and still serving our client base with Old World craftsmanship.”
Knowing every bottle of wine has a story, whether it’s the particular year it was produced, the content of the soil where the grapes were grown, or weather patterns in a particular region, Glisky and his team are more storytellers than distributors.
“Let’s face it, there’s a lot of wine in the marketplace,” Glisky says. “We share the story of the wine and the winemaker so that our customers can make informed decisions about the wine they’re buying.
“That obviously drives sales, but people are also looking for something unique to serve at their own parties or events, so we share our experiences whenever we can. We also recommend something people might not have had before, which again enhances someone’s knowledge base and opens up new conversations about wine andwinemaking.”
In Michigan, the company distributes its wines to more than 700 outlets, split evenly between restaurants and retailers. Woodberry’s overall portfolio represents wines from 15 different countries, including the United States, and collectively works with more than 200 producers offering 740 wines. Kindred, meanwhile, imports from France, Italy, and South Africa, and collectively offers 62 brands and 219 wines.
“Looking back, I have no buyer’s remorse,” Glisky says. “It really has been an amazing experience, and you meet so many different people from so many different industries. The trick is to take our time and put the systems in place so we can support our future growth.” db