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Top Of The List: Recipe For A Better Winery

Equal parts technology and business acumen give winemaker Gallo a better view of its processes, business, and customers

Thomas Claburn

September 17, 2004

2 Min Read

"Wal-Mart lets us use Retail Link data," says Kushar, referring to Wal-Mart's Web-based system for relaying sales information to its suppliers. "We then corroborate it against the pricing model and their cost model, and we produce by-bottle profitability so that the buyers can look at what products are moving, what products aren't, and are they making money on them." The key element is that Gallo never sees the results that the buyers--meaning retailers--get back from using the Gallo system, Kushar says. "So even though it's our technology, it uses their data. We don't see any of it."

For all the sophistication of Gallo's network architecture, the physical architecture that houses the company's IT operation stands in stark contrast to the elegant design of the company's administration building and the industrial credibility of its production facilities. The Gallo Technology Center is reminiscent of the sort of impermanent building thrown up to house construction contractors during large projects. It was intended to be a temporary home for three years. That was six years ago.

But the aesthetic disconnect belies how well Gallo's IT complements its business. Though there are always issues to be ironed out between IT and other parts of the company, the customer-centric approach of Kushar and his team has made for a positive partnership with the rest of Gallo. "Some of that problem resolution comes because we're starting to learn the business and they're starting to learn the technology," Kushar says.

It's fitting that among the art on the walls of the Gallo Technology Center is a reproduction of Buonaccorso Ghiberti's sketch of Filippo Brunelleschi's lantern hoist. This is a group that's always looking for a better tool to illuminate the supply chain.

Photographs by Jeffery Newbury

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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