John and Katherine Kramb are both retired from the U.S. Army. They purchased a winery, an impulse decision, following a visit to the Gettysburg area in 1998. For 7 years, John ran the winery by himself while Katherine finished her term of service. For the past 6 years, they have run it as a partnership, increasing sales each year by 18-20%. Katherine’s education as a lawyer helps the winery comply with the myriad of laws and regulations governing the alcohol business. John contributes through community outreach. He is a member of the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board. He is past president of the Pennsylvania Winery Association, and the Gettysburg Rotary Club. John is also the original winemaker and tender of the vineyard. Both bring marketing skills and ideas to the table.
What are you working on right now?
We are working on a project for 2013 that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
What does your typical day look like?
There are few typical days for us. A day can consist of strategic planning, meeting with subordinate managers, reviewing details of upcoming events, hosting our guests or completing government paperwork.
3 trends that excite you?
The movement to privatize the Pennsylvania liquor stores, the wider acceptance of sweet wines and the increasing average annual consumption of wine by Americans.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We kick them around with each other and our staff. No idea is so crazy to not be considered. An important benchmark for ideas is, “will it bring profit to us?”
What is one mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Hiring young people with no practical work experience and then not giving them close supervision. It seems as though many newly-minted college graduates come to us with insufficient skills to work in business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Entertain your customers.
What do you read every day and why?
Emails (to keep up), Facebook (also to keep up), History of the English Speaking Peoples (I love history) and Love, Sex and Tractors (to keep a sense of humor in my life).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People because many shop owners don’t understand that they are there for the customer, not the reverse.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I have yet to master tweeting.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Kaylen Banjerjee, President of Rotary International.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud at something every day. How else does one maintain one’s sanity? Mostly I laugh at myself and my many foibles.
How do you get tasting room staff to ask for sales?
Show them how, have them practice it and reinforce it.
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