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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, August 13, 2012, 6:30 am

CFO Recognition Awards 2012: Lori Beaudoin, Duckhorn Wine Co.

Mergers & Acquisitions — Wine

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    Senior vice president and chief financial officer

    Lori Beaudoin


    Duckhorn Wine Company

    1000 Lodi Ln., Saint Helena 94574, 707-963-7108, duckhorn.com

    Employees: 150

    Professional background: CPA, public accounting, business valuation, personal care, software and wine industries

    Education: B.S. Accounting, University of Idaho

    Age: 30 years of experience — let’s leave it at that!

    Comment about Lori Beaudoin: ”She has offered some incredible insight into our small privately owned company from her public-accounting background and understands the value of even the smallest decisions as it relates to our very customer-centric premium wine business.” –Alex Ryan, president, Duckhorn Wine Co.

    Questions for Ms. Beaudoin:

    What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?

    A CFO must take a leading role in determining short-term and long-term corporate strategy, improving day-to-day operations and driving bottom-line results. In the current economic environment, a financial leader has to appreciate and assess the changing business conditions to help guide the organization past today’s challenges and contribute to the strategic decisions necessary to sustain growth and create value as economic conditions improve.

    Key components to accomplish this are to have broad-based business and finance experience and build exceptional teams to carry out these plans and policies.

    What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?

    The biggest changes relate to intelligent, strategic growth within the wine industry while satisfying investment return, controlling property and grape price fluctuations, keeping current with environmental and government regulations that directly affect wine production and distribution and using technology wisely inside the office and out in the vineyards.

    Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?

    While the California wine industry enjoys worldwide recognition for excellence of the “juice,” financial software for it can be virtually prehistoric. We are in the midst of a long-overdue accounting software update that will greatly enhance our financial reporting and auditing capabilities, but the process is painful, to say the least.

    What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?

    Achieve and maintain your professional accreditation. Find a mentor, and absorb all aspects of business organizations, processes and functions. Ultimately, despite all the “smart” technology and associated hardware available today, one must develop people and networking skills to both build and work within those exceptional teams mentioned earlier.

    What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?

    Continue doing the things that made the company successful — profitable — and stop doing things that do not. Learn to say, “No.” Continually assess operational costs, and streamline where necessary.

    How do you think your business will change in the next five years?

    Grapes will grow, get picked and become fine wines. That will not change. As a result, the changes will be in the way wine is marketed both domestically and internationally. Wine company consolidations and ownership changes will continue to impact the industry.

    What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?

    I pushed my team to implement a multioperational ERP system on time. However, the team would have benefited from additional training and testing. The lesson learned was that, occasionally, it is actually more productive to disappoint in the short term to provide a positive experience in the long run.

    What is your most memorable business experience?

    My most memorable business experience is converting a QuickBooks accounting system to a fully integrated Web-based SAP system as part of a $60 million Mattel Interactive spinout venture.

    What is your greatest business success?

    Being part of the executive team tasked with taking a company from a small operation to an attractive business that was ultimately sold to a publicly traded company for a higher multiple than the equity owners had ever experienced. Once acquired, I was fortunate to work with the $1 billion public company to help run the division, which represented approximately 10 percent of the company’s revenue and about 20 percent of its bottom line.

    What was your toughest business decision?

    The toughest business decisions always center around staff reductions due to cost-cutting moves. It is difficult to be part of a decision that dramatically impacts a person and family in a negative way.

    What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?

    I used to go fly fishing and camping as I was growing up in Idaho.

    Most admired businessperson outside the company: J.R. Simplot

    Current reading: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Most want to meet: Condoleezza Rice

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