We entered 2020 full of optimism, with the most pressing issue at the time being how we were going to mitigate the market impact of the 25% tariffs which had been placed on our French, Spanish and German wines. Little did we know that was only the beginning of the challenges we would face. The weakening of the US dollar versus the Euro compounded the margin and pricing pressures we faced, and of course, COViD related restaurant closures severely hurt our restaurant friends. There was a lot of fear to go around, both within our Company and externally, which is understandable when the future is unclear and so many variables are outside of our control.
As a Company, our game plan was and continues to be very simple. Make the best decisions possible with the information that we have. Deal with the facts as they are presented to us. Work incredibly hard to be the best that we can be within our industry, because everyone is having to deal with the same set of problems. We are not being singled out.
So through this year we were as bold as we felt we could prudently be. We made strategic investments in personnel, adding more than a dozen new team members to the Sales, Warehouse, and Back-Office staff. These talented individuals are making a huge difference in our Company already, and we are comfortably setting ourselves up for future growth.
We improved our purchasing and logistics capabilities in order to reduce rising transportation and shipping costs. We added a talented warehouse and operations leader, Jim Timmer, who is professionalizing our warehouse and delivery operations, which will save the Company money and resources, reduce frustrations, and further improve upon the customer service that Woodberry Wine has always been famous for. We added new enhancements to the Woodberry Wizard, our business management system, that continues to make our Company run more efficiently. New features included an Open Account list feature which highlights accounts which may not be getting enough attention, and a backorder system that captures orders from clients when an item has been out of stock for a short period of time.
In a year when it would have been easy to decline bringing on new brands, we continued to improve our already incredible portfolio – adding impressive brands like Bonny Doon, Poderi dal Nespoli, Lapis Luna, 96 Points, The Big Red Monster, Bevan Cellars, Freja Vineyards, Andrew Murray, Zinke, and MastroJanni and re-launching both LynMar and Vina Marty.
Our sales team did a phenomenal job. They worked with our wonderful clients, continued to sample, and plan for the future. They became adept at conducting Virtual Zoom dinners and creating events that helped our restaurants and retailers grow their business. We held countless Master Classes, Virtual Happy Hours, and many other events that brought the Food and Wine community together and created energy, and hope for a greater future, to the market. While we had hoped to send four team members out to Napa each quarter, we were only able to send two groups. Still given this year, we feel that was an accomplishment, and our commitment to our team’s education and to our partners remains steadfast. This next year, we will continue that program.
In 2020 we launched our new Woodberry Wine price book, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone especially loved the Q4 PriceBook, which featured the dogs of Woodberry Wine. We think that our Price Books are a strong external representation of the quality Company that we are.
Our warehouse and our Sales Team members were all collectively our COVID heroes this year. Everyone stayed positive, everyone stayed focused. Everyone, in their own way, helped us get through this year. More will be expected of us this year. Already, new tariffs have been levied on French and German imports, and restrictions on our incredible restaurant partners (also our COVID heroes), continue to weigh on our collective psyches. Still, we cannot help but be optimistic as we have proven to ourselves and the rest of the world that we can not only survive to fight another day, but maintain our integrity and our values in the process.
I look forward to seeing you this year. Please send me an email or a text if I can help you in any way.
Dan Glisky, Jr.
CEO and Managing Partner
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