One of the benefits of living in Washington is the availability of premium quality locally-produced wines. Washington is the second-largest producer of wines in the U.S. (after California, of course!) The leading winery in the state is Chateau Ste. Michelle (CSM), recognized for its premium wines that are regularly rated with 90+ scores.
This wasn’t always the case, however. In the 1980s, this winery and the Washington wine industry in general were struggling when current CEO Ted Baseler joined the board. He set out on a mission to not only raise the quality and production of his winery, but also recognition of the state industry as a whole.
He started a total quality management program that is now emulated in other wineries. Noting the similarities in latitude, soil, and growing environment between Washington and Bordeaux, he focused their efforts on French techniques of lower yields, oak barrel aging, and legacy fermentation process. The results speak volume of his dedication: not only has he regularly received top awards, but Chateau Ste. Michelle has been recognized as Winery of the Year 22 times by Wine & Spirit magazine.
What many don’t know is that he almost single-handedly helped save the industry when it was in dire straits. As the winery started gaining exposure and recognition, there was a terrible freeze one year that wiped out many smaller vineyards. He offered them his company’s grapes to help them with production that year. He recognized them as not only “neighbors and friends”, but critical to the evolving industry as a whole. With his help, the state is prospering with nearly 1,000 wineries and 60,000 acres of vineyards.
With the overwhelming success of CEO Ted Baseler and Chateau Ste. Michelle, we can take a lesson from his attitude. Do you see other agents as your competitor, or do you see them as co-creators? Are you always in a combative mode during a transaction, or cooperative? If we want to improve the overall quality of service, and recognize that we all have a common goal - helping people make important transitions in their lives - then it is much better to work together for a successful result. Certainly, we must do the best to represent our clients, but often that means working together and not as adversaries.