Thursday, August 14, 2014

Do it The PLCB Way: let the unqualified lead

I often say the PLCB is poorly run and mismanaged by unqualified people. The list of mistakes, foul-ups, and just plain ignorance is a long and funny read in a perverse sort of way. As the second largest U.S. retailer of wine, the PLCB didn't and still doesn't have a Certified Sommelier on staff. None of the Board has ever run any company even 10% the size of the PLCB. The Chairman's Selection buyer isn't highly certified. There are no educational requirements for management positions...the list goes on and on.

Maybe that is changing. The PLCB now lists a Jennifer Brown as "Specialty Wine Consultant" on their payroll. She's the only one, as of 15 July, but maybe more will follow. So just how qualified is this person to be a "consultant" to the great unknowing mass of cube rats who select what every Pennsylvanian is allowed to buy?  Let's look.

I got a bit excited when I found Jennifer Brown was a certified Sommelier, a member of the Society of Wine Educators, and pursuing entrance into the Master of Wine program, along with attending the Wine Business Program at Sonoma State University in California, including viticulture and enology course work at UC Davis.  But alas...this is not the same Jennifer Brown hired by the PLCB. The one we have is a marketing person who worked or is still working as the Luxury Buyer France/CA of the PLCB Luxury division. You certainly don't want a certified and qualified person doing that job do you?

In fact, she herself lists wine tasting 4th of things she knows best behind Marketing Strategy, Marketing, and Sales.

I don't know about you, but that just about explains everything that I need to know about the selection process for Luxury French and California wine by the PLCB. My advice is go to Moore Brothers and talk to some people who care more about good wine than good marketing.

Oh, and that other Jennifer Brown, the really qualified one, also works in wine marketing -- for a private firm much, much smaller than the PLCB. Lucky them. Too bad for us.


Geno Washington said...

Since the PLCB can't be bothered to create a store locator that actually returns store locations in the order of their proximity to the user's location, I volunteer to summarize the contents of each of their Main Line-area stores (chosen because that region has a huge concentration of affluent wine lovers), in an honest way:

Overbrook: minimal

Bala Cynwyd: 2,000+ items

Narberth: 2,000+ items

Manayunk: minimal

Ardmore: 2,000+ items

Bryn Mawr: 2,000+ items

Villanova: 2,000+ items

Wayne: minimal

Devon: 2,000+ items

Berwyn: 2,000+ items

Valley Forge: 2,000+ items

Paoli: 2,000+ items

Malvern: minimal

Frazer: minimal

Conshohocken: 2,000+ items

King of Prussia (west): 2,000+ items

King of Prussia (east): minimal

Havertown: 2,000+ items

Drexel Hill: 2,000+ items

Broomall: 2,000+ items

Broomall wholesale: 2,000+ items

Newtown Square (West/south): minimal

Newtown Square inside Acme: minimal

Newtown Square: minimal

Anonymous said...

So you are saying that Jennifer Brown knows very little about wine? Why would you make such a comment without ever meeting her? If you would have met her, you wouldn't make such an idiotic comment! Total stupidity!

sam k said...

So, bold Anonymous, it would appear you HAVE met her and You DO approve of her credentials.

Do tell us more, unless you HAVEN'T met her and have NO IDEA what her credentials are.

Past random appointments by the PLCB have proven to be roundly incompetent in the past. It will take more than a single competent appointment (and I'm not saying this one IS) to begin any kind of track record.

Albert Brooks said...

I'm saying based on the competency level available based on the other Jenifer Brown the one we have isn't even close. When you claim to have "world class" sales and service you need to have "world class" people doing it. Out of the two who would you pick?

Anonymous said...

Consistent with this is that Dale Horst was the director of store ops. That is his background. He can manage stores effectively. With Short's resignation Horst was appointed acting dir of marketing and product management. Now he has the position permanently. Dale has no experience in this are and does not know the product end of the business. He can tell you where to put the beer on the shelves but not what wine to buy. Again why didn't they go out a recruit someone with credentials? They will not learn!

Albert Brooks said...

Since the PLCB doesn't sell beer his talent is being wasted.

Anonymous said...

I remember the chief wine buyer for Costo saying something like selling wine is no different than selling toilet paper.

Albert Brooks said...

Nice catch!

Anonymous said...

I was one of those "cube rats" at the PLCB a few years ago. I worked alongside Jennifer Brown, the French Luxury Wine Buyer and she is EXTREMELY knowledgeable and very qualified for the job she holds. In my 15 plus years in the wine and spirits industry I have met few who possess the wine knowledge she does. I would suggest reaching out to her, I am sure she would be more than happy to talk to you face to face. Then you could make an educated judgement on her experience and knowledge, I think you would be pleasantly surprised! Have a great day!

Albert Brooks said...

Compared to the Jennifer Brown who doesn't work for the PLCB her lack of credentials speaks for itself. She may be a nice person and you may think she is qualified but since there are no people with real industry standards of the highest level that work for the PLCB, and there never have been, you have nothing to base your opinion on since you have nothing to compare her to.

If a hotel or restaurant and even some individual stores can have people with recognized industry credentials of the highest level one would hope that the organization buying wine for an entire state might too. Too bad for us that such is not the case.