Neighbours Fixing Tractors
Large producers in the food and beverage industry live by the following maxim.
If you want to be a successful food business, buy and support your local producers.
If you want to be a very successful food business, market yourself as though you buy and support local producers, but buy off the GFS truck. Or container ship.
At the winery we auditioned some ideas borrowed from factories, and some of them stuck.
After hand bottling the first vintages ourselves, we farmed out the packaging to a custom bottler.
We analyzed production and tossed unnecessary steps like racking the wine numerous times.
We bought expensive equipment like a forklift and a press, and reduced the amount of work we did by hand.
Other aspects of factory production were less appealing, mainly those related to homogenizing the product.
Sulphur as a preservative created stability, but it also seemed to kill a certain part of the wine’s profile and leave something less interesting in its place.
Additives and other controls defined the duration of the ferment, but they prevented the development in flavour that came from long ferments.
Sterile stainless steel tanks were great for cleanliness, but the imperfect (and thus risky) surfaces that older oak vessels offered were good for flavour.
It’s not a black and white the line between what’s sustainable (think raising 6 pigs on your farm ) and what’s exploitive (think building a barn and ramming 10,000 pigs into it).
I’m involved in the fun stages of a few new businesses, and the switch is going to flip as operations begin and hard questions surface.
You don’t want your workplace to be all about Standard Operating Procedure handbooks in the back of house, and polished messaging in the front of house.
But you don’t want to run on whimsy and have to answer to the bank, and get pushed into spreadsheeting, cost-cutting, and giving up the ethics and culture of your business in order to survive.
My choice for future projects is to avoid the corporate trap, which is replacing humans and their integrity with a set of corporate rules calling the shots, but spread accountability across a team so a fallible individual doesn’t run the ship aground.
We’ll see how that goes.
See you next week, maybe Friday,
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