The fam­ily tak­ing on the world

The Fam­ily of Twelve is a great ex­am­ple of how small-scale ex­porters can com­bine forces to make a big noise on the world stage. By Cather­ine Beard.

Exporter - - VIEWPOINT -

When it comes to mak­ing an im­pact on a global scale, how do small fam­i­ly­owned Kiwi firms com­pete with the big guys? One an­swer is to join forces with other sim­i­lar firms, which is what 12 New Zealand winer­ies did 12 years ago when they formed Fam­ily of Twelve.

I talked to Wil­liam Hoare, par­towner and GM of Fromm Win­ery in Blen­heim and chair­man of Fam­ily of Twelve, about what makes the col­lab­o­ra­tion work.

“Fun­da­men­tally it's about ac­knowl­edg­ing that we're too small to make it on a global scale our­selves, but to­gether we can cre­ate in­ter­est. For ex­am­ple, I may know ten peo­ple in Hong Kong, but when you go as Fam­ily of Twelve and we all know ten peo­ple, that's 120 wine writ­ers and other peo­ple fill­ing a room, and that cre­ates in­ter­est. You more eas­ily at­tract me­dia just by be­ing there.

“It's like shout­ing in a crowded room. You can eas­ily get drowned out, but to­gether you have a louder voice,” ex­plains Wil­liam.

“When we first set up, a cou­ple of things were done re­ally well. Num­ber one – each win­ery is in charge of its own sales, so Fam­ily of Twelve is a mar­ket­ing group not a sales group. Num­ber two – we all pay an an­nual fee that can only be used in mar­ket. It's each win­ery's re­spon­si­bil­ity to get to the mar­ket, and pay for their ac­com­mo­da­tion and ex­penses while there.

“It means we can go and put on pro­fes­sional events in Hong Kong and Lon­don, for ex­am­ple, that we could not do by our­selves.

“We em­ploy a PR and brand man­ager to or­gan­ise events in mar­ket for us and make sure the right mes­sages are get­ting out there.”

When Fam­ily of Twelve was set up, it was all about mar­ket­ing. How­ever, it has since evolved to pro­vide other ben­e­fits.

“It's about shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge,” says Wil­liam. “Ev­ery­one helps each other, to the point where you can just pick up the phone and ask one of the other winer­ies what a par­tic­u­lar dis­trib­u­tor is like to deal with. It also means you are sur­rounded by peo­ple do­ing in­cred­i­ble things in mar­kets, and it raises the bar and helps in­spire you.”

Another ben­e­fit of the col­lab­o­ra­tion is the R&D as­pect. The viti­cul­tur­ists get to­gether each year to share knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence about viti­cul­ture, stocks, cli­mate and what works. The wine­mak­ers also get to­gether and do tri­als, which can be highly valu­able.

“For ex­am­ple, there is a new type of chardon­nay that has been in New Zealand for about six years and we were con­sid­er­ing whether we should grow it,” says Wil­liam. “On viti­cul­ture day, two of the winer­ies had ac­tu­ally grown it and made wine out of it, so we could look at it, taste it and de­cide whether it would work for us. That is essen­tially five years' worth of time we saved. It's that sort of shar­ing that I think will make the 12 winer­ies stronger and stronger into the fu­ture.

“We're also help­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion com­ing through, and look­ing at set­ting up some kind of schol­ar­ship so they can go and get some busi­ness train­ing be­fore they take over the fam­ily busi­ness.

“When we set up there were a lot of winer­ies who wanted to join, but they were cor­po­rates and that doesn't work with us. We are all fam­ily-owned busi­nesses; a fam­ily of fam­i­lies. We can sit around a ta­ble and make de­ci­sions to­gether with­out hav­ing to go back to a big cor­po­rate head of­fice some­where. Be­ing fam­ily-owned also helps cre­ate a lot of in­ter­est, es­pe­cially in Asia.”

Col­lab­o­ra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties

Wil­liam says he can see other col­lab­o­ra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties within New Zealand – for ex­am­ple in the honey and beer sec­tors. “Honey is wide open for it be­cause in a way it's like the wine in­dus­try. You've got lots of lit­tle guys run­ning around strug­gling to make an im­pact on a global scale; whereas if you got ten or 12 of them to­gether, it could be very dif­fer­ent.”

For those con­sid­er­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion, Wil­liam's ad­vice is to be very care­ful who you part­ner with. “It took us two years to choose the right peo­ple. All around the world peo­ple have copied the con­cept, but they some­times fall apart be­cause peo­ple want dif­fer­ent things.

“You need to be clear on what you are try­ing to achieve through the col­lab­o­ra­tion. Then set the fund­ing up right so every­body un­der­stands what it's for. For us, it's another lever to pull and a re­ally good way of open­ing doors on a global scale; doors that may not even be there when you go into these mar­kets on your own.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.