Located in Oregon, the Stoller Wine Group oversees the Stoller Family Estate and Chehalem Winery, America's first LEED Gold-certified winery.
In 2012, Gary Mortensen was hired to scale Stoller Family Estate, a small boutique winery and vineyard operation at the time, into a nationally recognized house of brands known not only for their homegrown Oregon quality but for their leading-edge marketing and branding. According to Mortensen, “it was a quiet, nice little business, but the owner had other intentions.” He wanted to see growth and hired Mortensen to assemble a leadership team that would set and achieve high goals to that end.
Knowing nothing short of transformational change would be required, Mortensen also knew outside expertise would be needed to add guidance and a seasoned perspective in addressing the required leadership and cultural reset in the organization.
The Stoller Wine Group
Enter Rick Thomas of First Generation Advisors. Leveraging Rick’s expertise and guidance, Gary began to “inspect and realign aspects of the operation with the owner’s objectives in mind,” creating a transformational action plan has driven the business since then.
When asked what value Rick brought to the Stoller Wine Group, Mortensen indicated that “the guidance and consistency of what he has provided” engendered trust between the two. Rick was able to provide Mortensen with perspectives that he hadn’t necessarily thought about. He added that it didn’t take long to realize that Rick was full of integrity and well-intentioned. His priorities were clear, and his actions reflected that.
Mortensen went on to say that it was a luxury being able to consult with an expert who was readily available to listen. As the business world grows increasingly challenging, Rick is “able to bring order to the chaos.”
“It’s been a great comfort to know that Rick has been plunged into this great adventure with me. He’s been our sounding board through each phase of the transition, and he has a rich historical context for how we got to that next stage. I don’t think that you can underestimate the value of that.”
— Gary Mortensen, President, Stoller Wine Group
Gary Mortensen and his team found Rick’s guidance invaluable, noting his skillful facilitation of meetings, ongoing support of leadership and associates, and organizational approach to the company’s overall transformation. Rick provided what Mortensen calls “that anchoring sensibility” that helped the company adjust to unprecedented rapid growth in the wine industry.
From acquiring wineries and vineyards, to managing double digit growth year over year, to dealing with the complex challenges of pandemics, fires, and disrupted market channels, the Stoller Wine Group has navigated through it all by relentlessly innovating to stay in front of the change curve.
Mortensen is able to attribute Stoller Wine Group’s marked success to ownership that is growth minded and committed, a leadership team, staff and employees that continually strive to excel, and to the support, expertise, and perspective that Rick Thomas has brought to the table.