What I learned from Barefoot Wine and Vans

October 9th, 2015 by Richard (Ric) Franzi, MBA
Barefoot Wine and Vans

“As long as you are not in a market, you can’t fail, but once you are in a market you are in trouble because now you have to succeed.” Michael Houlihan, Cofounder of Barefoot Wine.

Michael Houlihan, Cofounder of Barefoot Wine and Kevin Bailey, President of Vans on Monday October 5th during our Annual Executive Conference

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To listen to the 60-minute interview CLICK HERE.

Kevin explained that Vans employs a strategy designed to start small in a new market and build momentum for long term growth and sustainable performance.

A question came to us from the live audience listening to the stream on www.OCTalkRadio.net.

The question was “In your experience, what are some of the most common mistakes companies make when they are developing their strategy when entering a new market?”

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Kevin offered, “…many times firms chose the wrong partner(s) in a new market. The biggest mistake is not truly understanding a win-win. Do they really understand how to create a win for the local partner that sustains long term success?”

“We had a two division company: sales and sales support. Everyone not in sales was in sales support!” Michael Houlihan.

Michael shared that many times companies “…fall in love with their brand and the success they have had in a certain regional area and want to take that show on the road, but they grossly underestimate the true cost of sales in the new market.

Jeff Shattuck, President of Dot Fulfillment asked, “As you approach new markets, and have new teams in those markets, who do you make your culture translate well into the new market?”

Kevin’s response included, “Vans has a very specific sequencing plan to ensure the key elements of the brand remain intact. Vans also has a team that travels early and often to the new markets to help inoculate them with the Vans culture.”

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Michael said, “We took a message from our logo, a barefoot. When you see a footprint in the sand you know nothing about the person other than they are human. So when we got started, we looked for strategic alliances that were already networked in the markets who would help us get our word out.”

The 1-hour conversation between our panelists and the 100+ members, of my community, flowed seamlessly throughout the morning.

“Building a learning culture supported by a focus on employee development is key to who Vans is as an organization.” Kevin Bailey.

This was the 10th Executive Conference and many attendees have told me it was our best! I owe that to the quality of the answers from Kevin and Michael and the thoughtful questions from the community, both at the Center Club and listening online.

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