Best Places to Work 2014: VinoPro

SANTA ROSA -- As a sales solutions provider for the wine business, VinoPro has been growing rapidly as vintners turn more of their direct-sales development to the company's staff of 50.

"We want to be viewed as the most professional organization that our clients have ever worked with in the wine business," said Jeff Stevenson, CEO and co-founder. "Our entire company strives to achieve that singular goal each and every day."

Rapid revenue growth in the past four years qualified VinoPro a spot for the past years on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing independent companies in the U.S. The company ranked No. 2,107 this year, with three-year sales growth of 190 percent to $2.8 million. Wine sales for clients rose to almost $9 million last year.

The company started in 2007 but garnered new investors and changed direction to business process outsourcing in 2009. This summer the company launched an on-premise interactive kiosk service that allows wineries and restaurants to build lasting relationships with visitors.

VinoPro managers encourage workers to make decisions and think creatively.

"Many of the great ideas in our company have come from our employees, and we recognize them for those ideas," Mr. Stevenson said.

Recently, an employee received The Profound Impact award for his ideas that were put into practice. One such idea was the creation of a wine club sales division last year to help vintner customers boost direct sales. The group sold more than 4,000 memberships over the phone in 2013 and about 2,500 since the beginning of this year.

Beyond pay and commissions, VinoPro offers a number of incentives to inspire and keep employees.

"Lots of amenities make the work day more pleasant: food, games, a beautiful location, wine tasting during work hours," one employee said.

Other incentives include wine club residual income, waived tasting fees at client wineries, wholesale prices for beer and wine, and competitions with bonuses. There's also a bonus for participating in Sonoma State University's mentorship program.

VinoPro experimented with flextime in July, and several employees said they like it.

"A flexible schedule is very helpful with my family life, having it available relieves a ton of stress," one said. "They also offer pay day advances with no interest, which will help if my family is ever in a pinch."

Days off include two weeks around Christmas and New Year's Day.

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