Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 6 (Witchmount Winery)
By Musicwhiz  •  May 21, 2010
[caption id="attachment_5034" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Photo by delphaber"]Photo by delphaber[/caption] Part 6 of this series features James moving on to Australia, where he checks out a winery business and visits a vineyard owner. The scene is set in Melbourne, Australia and the vineyard is called Witchmount Winery (WW) and its owner is a man called Tony Ramunno (“Tony”). The background on this business is that it is a family business founded in the early 1990’s. The vineyard occupies many acres (exact area was not mentioned) and Tony’s wine had just won a prestigious award from France for “Best Shiraz In The World”. However, Tony did not really leverage on this award to establish networks or push for more sales, resulting in lost opportunities. Early in the program, James mentions that one of Sun Tzu’s sayings is “Always be ready to seize an advantage”. This is very true in war as well as business – if you have a superior advantage over your enemy (competitor), you should fully utilize it to win the war and battle. Tony’s Witchmount brand had good coverage as a result of the award but because he did not leverage on it, he let the opportunity slip to promote his wines to the next higher level. When interviewed, Tony admitted that “sales was always a challenge” and that there were 15,000 wineries in Australia, thus competition was keen and it was mainly a pricing game as it would be difficult for consumers to differentiate between brands. James brought in 5 wine experts to taste Tony’s wines, and all agreed it had quality and was a good product, but the problem was differentiating it from the competition as other consumers may not have such discerning palates. According to James, it was a disappointment but not a disaster. Tony did not have a concrete plan to increase sales and was just plodding on currently, so that was a gap which needed to be filled. James cited one example where a sales rep from Tony’s office did not show up at a restaurant which was selling their wines, and it was this lapse in service which could make or break a good deal, as restaurants are the main channel for Tony to distribute his wines to (he has no retail presence). James interviewed one of Tony’s employees called Adrian Machioiro and he mentioned that staff in general need more guidance from Tony when it came to higher-level decision-making. Tony was sometimes uncontactable, which resulted in many decisions being left by the wayside and it severely slowed down the process of getting things done. Management staff also got impatient as a result of these delays and it negatively affected overall staff morale. On a side note, Tony did comment that for Adrian’s case, he feels that he is not competent enough to execute some of the marketing initiatives which Tony himself had come up with, but he declined to elaborate on camera. Read more...
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By Musicwhiz
Musicwhiz who is in his 30s is educated in accounting and works in the investment line (but not in a bank, financial institution, brokerage or fund house). He has a have a full-time job and investing is his side-line as well as passion. Musicwhiz is a value investor and his technique is derived from the teachings of Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham and Phil Fisher. He incorporate all aspects of their investing style, and modify his value investing style to the Singapore market.

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