A bottle of Gallo wine on every table. That's Jim Coleman's and his company's vision, which means they want to bring Gallo award-winning wines to the world. As co-chairman of E. & J. Gallo Winery, Coleman oversees more than 3,500 employees worldwide, all working to supply the tables of eighty-seven countries with 64 million cases of wine a year, selling one out of every four bottles sold in the United States.
A Lifetime of Learning. After growing up in Corvallis and attending Oregon State University, Coleman transferred to the University of Oregon. In 1958, he earned his B.A. in business administration, and shortly after began learning the wine business by selling wine in Portland. Under the mentoring of his father-in-law, Julio Gallo, he learned the art and science of winemaking, advancing over the years to become executive vice president of production.
Coleman vividly remembered his University of Oregon graduation ceremony, when the president of the university addressed the new graduates saying, "We taught you how to learn during these last four years. Now it is up to you to make this a lifetime experience." Coleman has taken those words with him in his work with Gallo, and credits the idea of lifetime learning as contributing much to his success.
Coleman has been working and learning at the Gallo winery for more than forty years. He can be credited, along with founders Ernest and Julio Gallo and the two other co-chairmen, Joseph Gallo and Robert Gallo, as being an important part of the leadership that brought E. & J. Gallo Winery to prominence as the world's most successful and largest winemaker.
Family Is My Business. It is impossible to spend more than a few minutes with Coleman before the word family comes up. The winery has been a family-owned business since the brothers, Ernest and Julio, started making wine on a shoestring in Modesto, California, in 1934, at the end of prohibition. Coleman credits this family-owned tradition with much of Gallo's success.
"Family-owned businesses are unique in many ways," said Coleman. "We take the long-term view, building a company to last for generations to come."
Coleman is extremely proud that he is continuing the line of family management, with his children now holding important positions with the winery. Nonetheless, Coleman sees many challenges ahead for Gallo in the global marketplace.
"The speed at which the marketplace is changing is incredible," said Coleman. "The challenge is to make sure we are responding to the needs of the market and satisfying our customers by aligning our resources to offer products they want."
To achieve the family vision, Coleman charts the mission of Gallo to grow the California wine industry overall and within that industry to be the leader in customer satisfaction, innovation, and, above all, quality. Coleman sees the real growth opportunity for the future at the convergence of three specific business objectives for the table wine business. First, to be the number one global brand. Second, to continue to grow Gallo's share of the market in premium wine. The last objective, and perhaps the most ambitious, is to introduce more Americans to wine as a daily beverage and to increase the domestic market base.
"What is needed in the business world more than anything else is visionary leaders to make the rapid changes in industry that the marketplace is demanding. They need to be able to facilitate the creation, communication, and execution of compelling and strategically sound vision. The challenge for all of us," said Coleman, "is to create more 'A' players who will be this kinds of leader."