It’s been a difficult but rewarding year.
In calendar 2022, I enjoyed quality family time with short breaks in Aspen and Milan plus some well-deserved long weekends at Noosa, Port Douglas, Cradle Mountain, Margaret River, Portsea and the Flinders Ranges.
For the staff that were allowed to WFH (with key-logging, CCTV and other supervisory requirements), doubtless this made it simpler to attend our family-friendly daily 7am Zoom briefings.
Travel restrictions from COVID have now eased, so my worklife has been largely consumed by essential reconnection to suppliers, agents, employees, trade and Government representatives. Add my keynote speeches at assorted conferences, TED, accepting the voluminous marketing awards, plus recent critical networking engagements at the Superbowl, Australian Open and elsewhere.
My relentless focus on margins continues – a combination of brand premiumisation, ruthless cost-cutting, maximising trade grants and subsidies, exploiting taxation loopholes combined with our renowned extraordinarily momentous litigious manoeuvres.
Obviously, nearly all staff had their bonus expectations annihilated, and received a laser lesson in my metric-driven expectations. Those that did not achieve “satisfactory” ratings for their KPI deliverables had instant automatic access to alternate external opportunities, apart from serving out their extended unpaid non-competition periods. Several performance reviews migrated into exit interviews. I did however find one employee with startling achievements and foresight – and under my ongoing mentorship will be joining the executive leadership team with a revised title and remuneration package plus oppressive responsibilities.
My own bonus was not as monolithic as in previous years, despite careful escape from our assorted crypto holdings one week before they crashed. My ownership interest in Stoney Goose Ridge merely ratcheted up to 28%. Of course, I have sufficient assets to purchase the firm outright, but even with other investment opportunities, clearly, I have colossal skin in the game.
I was also busy beating back persistent approaches by “Managing Partners” from the usual consulting firms, generally suggesting Stoney Goose Ridge employ their analytic expertise for nebulous and dubious “category development exploration”, “customer journey mapping” and “organisational re-alignment”. They somehow forgot the infamous bidding war for my services as a full partner while still at University; similarly, they assume I have no detailed knowledge – theory and practice- of 4S, TOSCA, MECE, Scamper, and other tools. And intimate access to the might of our data analytic practitioners. Perhaps they should note my MBA and observe that in my six-year tenure at Stoney Goose Ridge, EBIT has increased 5-fold, profit 12-fold, with killer brand awareness and loyalty. ROI, EPG, SEO, NAV etc ditto ad infinitum. Perhaps the consulting firms wish to garner and dissect our IP secrets of success? Regardless, they can return to their bunkers and recycle their dusty proposals to the gullible.
And I have leanly recruited talent while sweating our staff assets to the max. There was the usual voluminous barrage of multi-media CVs seeking employment, internships, cadetships, traineeships and work experience at Stoney Goose Ridge. Many called; few were chosen.
It is fortunate that the ineptitude of my competitors is astonishing. Their leaders and boards would achieve better results if they were replaced by sacks of potatoes – I could carve a banana with a stronger spine. Decision-making, agility, and strategy- entirely absent. If you can’t cut the mustard, move to higher ground. Feathering their nests by milking their conflicts of interest. Their annual reports nonsensical prolix exemplars of self-serving hagiographic masterclasses in corporate doublespeak. Next step is replacing their press release puff-pieces of tripe via ChatGPT – if they are even aware. Their leadership excels in having much to be humble and modest about, bleating as they suffer the swings and harrows of outrageous fortune. What you see is all there is (WYSIATI).
When the China boom was lowered on their wine basket of nest-eggs, our competitors had to “pivot.” But changing horses midstream is a double-edged sword of Damocles. My cold, cold heart bleeds for our rivals- NOT.
Anyway, if through blind luck, nepotism or payola, a competitor’s beverage offers become successful, we have always been ready to expose the unethical or morally dubious antics of their brand ambassadors, thus eviscerating their labels – the inevitable consequence BOGOF offers and inventory write-downs. Or we create meaningful customer alternatives – such as Jason’s Creek, Cottage hill, Moister Bay, Black Rabbit, Shoeless, Gecko Falls, 16 Flames and Mellow Tale. Such is life, so it goes.
Stoney Goose Ridge also justly celebrated assorted non-wine SKU product launches:
- premixed cocktails, not just the typical cosmopolitan, expresso martini, margarita, bloody Mary, old-fashioned, daiquiri, Mai tai, Manhattan, amaretto, negroni and mojito, but a few specials – the “leap into an open grave” and the “big orgasm”. Naturally our premium cocktail range leaves other producers in the shade, quality-wise, thanks to my interventions in their formulations.
- Zero (and near-zero) alcohol beers and spirits, under our umbrella branding paradigms Less is more! and D’lite, not intended to satisfy the wowsers and abstinent self-flagellating martyrs of Feb-Fast, dry July etc, or the conspicuously affluent consumers. Again, our adversaries provide a flavour-deficit, with their infallible inability to deploy the sensitive assemblage of base material and technical interventions. We deserve wealth and recognition from providing feel-good healthiness to the abstemious.
- Packaging into cans, pouches, growlers, paper and plastic bottles. If the market, margin and motivation is present, we launch! And we did – leveraging niches is part of our corporate mRNA.
And of course, our ongoing beers, ciders, spritzers and spirits sales are gangbusters.
Merch sales are also fantastic, with social media ablaze with influencers and followers flaunting Stoney Goose Ridge apparel in exotic locales. And our POS paraphernalia continues to dazzle customers.
Adventure afar (AA) is our retargeted strategic global thematic, with omnichannel touchpoints including packaging, POS, OOH, digital, experiential, social and events across key live markets. Media partners and customers adore this refreshed conceptual vitality framework.
My biggest challenge has been sourcing supply to cover the inexorable sales growth of Stoney Goose Ridge. There is no compromise on quality, and it is fortunate that the world is awash with excess stock, giving a wide supply source – if my quality hurdles are met and the price can be optimised for our margins. Truly I am absolutely unique, with creativity, vision, direction, unparalleled negotiating prowess and riveting determination to untangle the sludge in supply chain bottlenecks.
Dealing with the media and press – gutter and otherwise- seeking my profound iron-disciplined evidence-based insightful wisdom on the world of alcohol is as tedious as the junkets and contra they expect.
I spent several days embedded in woodshedding with our wine fabricational staff. They had prepared hundreds of sample blends, with exemplars of their components and accompanying spreadsheets. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when the facts emerged, their judgements were proven wrong. They were predictably enthralled by my swift assessments and the massive improvements made through my blending mastery, admiring the Midas touch of my magic wand. There is no substitute for virtuoso genius, despite their obsessive analytical endeavours and constant requests for additional devices, soil mapping drones and variegated storage- even new barrels every year! (my accountant joke!)
Believe the HYPE
To my disappointment, there have been no new wine brands released from Stoney Goose Ridge since early last year with our record-breaking World Heavyweight Champion™. But here it comes.
We used Intercontinental blending material (ICBM) so Merlot from Bordeaux, Cabernet from China, and Carmenere from Chile, fully capturing the essence of their organic terroirs, and biodiversity paradigm. And surprisingly, no component from Australia. As the premiere release, it was initially evaluated as ICBM #1. Appropriately, this uniquely revolutionary, ground-breaking contemporary concept is labelled “the Hype.” It comes with the usual proprietary QR, AR and a plethora of security devices to help further protect the iconic form of the Stoney Goose Ridge brand, prevent dilution from unauthorised copies and serve as a precedent across jurisdictions. Focus group participants begged to purchase the wine – for amounts well beyond its market tariff – as its sensuous aromatics, and sublime structural finesse flabbergasted their gustatory experiences.
Stoney Goose Ridge always wants its products to be available for our true hyper-dedicated fans, and it is priced at AU$ 38, NZ$ 41, US$ 26, GB£ 21 and €24. 2021 The HYPE is available from select outlets from 20 February, and of course via our multi-award-winning website.
And what a stunningly luminous collectable trompe-l’oeil label! The EOI for the 3D NFTs surge.
There will be a barrage of typically glittering omni-channel launches in 2023.
Ubiquity is Utopia. Again, we celebrate our nimiblity – your motivational icon, Hector A Lannible