Why did you decide to get into this business?
First off, I have a passion for wine. My wife and I enjoy learning about it and incorporate it into most of our vacations. We have wine with dinner about every night, and really enjoy sharing it with family and friends. But what really gave me the idea to start this business was seeing all the problems my friends had with the cellars they built. These were in nice homes. And they had quality help, just not the right help. I knew there had to be a better way.
What sort of problems?
Oh boy. The rooms were built incorrectly, with the wrong insulation and there were mold issues. The use of inferior woods and systems. The wrong lighting. Temperature and humidity control systems were undersized or improperly installed.
Is this rocket science?
No. But like with everything in life, if you don’t know what you’re doing, bad things can happen. But it’s about a lot more than the technical details of building a cellar or wine room right. What we do is about fulfilling the vision that the homeowners have for such a space.
How do you do that?
By asking a lot of questions. Asking the right questions. About the role wine plays in their lives. How they envision using the space. Frankly, if you don’t have a lot of passion for wine, it’s hard to have the right discussion.
Isn’t that a bit snobbish?
Haha. I guess it is. I suppose it’s some twist on “it takes one to know one.” In all seriousness, people relate to wine in different ways, and we want to capture that in this space.
What do you find people are looking for?
People want to make a statement with this space. Often these days, these rooms are in the main living area. It’s an entertainment space. It’s got to look good. Different people want a different impact. It’s got to work. And this is unique, because I can’t think of anything else in your house that needs both proper storage, and appropriate presentation.
Are there a lot of options?
There sure are. Do you have a lot of individual bottles? Will you be storing in bulk? Do you keep wine in its original crates? This is common for collectors. Upright? On the slant? Racking styles and colors. Different woods. Lighting. The door. And a million possible design features.
Doesn’t all of this create a lot of confusion?
It can. Which is why guiding people through a real process is so important. We’re gonna help you make these choices, not just stick a bunch of things in front of you and say, “let me know.”
Sounds like you definitely need to know what you’re doing.
Did I mention there are something like 45 different bottle sizes?
It probably is! But details like this – you’re just not going to unearth these things, you’re just not going to know the right questions to ask, even if you are a very good designer or contractor. You’ve got to be someone focused on wine, its presentation and storage, and how it’s enjoyed.
Do most people understand proper storage?
If you’re making the investment in exclusive and expensive wines, you better. The proper design and construction of a room for this purpose is critical to preserve quality and value over time. Properly stored, wines can age and evolve for decades.
Other than enthusiasm for wine, what do you bring to your company?
That’s a great question. I was in the office furniture business for 15 years. I’ve also spent a lot of time in real estate and construction.
I get the construction, but I’m having trouble understanding the office furniture thing. How would that relate to building a wine room?
People also buy office furniture for different reasons – sometimes you just need a place to sit and work, other times, you want to make a statement. The office furniture business taught me how people relate to their space, to their environment.
Last question – how on earth did you end up as the NC Secretary of Revenue?
Haha. Well, life takes us to some different places. But I will say this: when the governor asked me to take the position, I asked why he chose me. He said, “I need someone completely honest and trustworthy, who will approach such a position with complete integrity.” It was a nice compliment.