Until recently, Keith Allan ’10 had spent most of his working life in the pharmaceutical industry. When corporate consolidation left him without a job three years ago, however, Allan realized the best way to beat a volatile economy was to become his own boss. So, with help from his MBA in Leadership from Saint Joseph’s College, he bought a business in a field arguably more therapeutic than pharmaceuticals: wine.
How did you decide to make the switch from pharmaceuticals to wine?
When the company I worked for was purchased in 2009 and the workforce was consolidated, I started considering opportunities outside of healthcare. A close friend of mine suggested I join him in his start-up company, Mobile Wine Services. I knew one of the quickest ways to enter a market and gain significant market share was to merge or acquire the competition. So, in April 2010, VinPure was acquired; in 2012 VinPure and Mobile Wine Services successfully merged.
Can you explain the service VinPure provides?
Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and found that its taste, aroma and character were unappealing? VinPure’s objective is to make sure that doesn’t happen. We administer Velcorin – a microbial control agent – to wines during the bottling process. This improves the microbiological stability of wines and increases shelf life.
Was transitioning into the wine industry, after 23 years in pharmaceuticals, difficult?
Actually, no. It’s been relatively seamless. Consider the analogy: A physician is to a patient what a winemaker is to wine. Both the physician and the winemaker seek to treat and improve longevity, and that’s VinPure’s specialty.
Have you always had a desire to own a business?
While I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I was content working in the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, I had job security and the opportunity for creative expression. In today’s economy, though, I think business ownership is the only way to ensure long-term sustainability. Plus, it provides freedom of expression and the opportunity to contribute to one’s community on a deeply personal level.
Has your education at Saint Joseph’s College helped you with VinPure?
Absolutely, especially the courses focusing on diversity. A lot of our vineyard workers and interns are from around the world – Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, France and Spain. Having an appreciation for the diversity of others and their experiences leads to more effective collaboration and, ultimately, better wine!
by Alanna Conn