Meet Harvest Card's Landon McPherson, one of North Bay Business Journal's 2019 Forty Under 40
Landon McPherson, 35, founder of Harvest Card in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.
Responsibilities with your company: I founded Harvest Card 2.5 years ago - it began with conversations with a few friends, after a glass of wine or two. I reached out to a graphic designer friend, Jon Strachan and said: “I have an idea and need some help.”
He and I met and literally sat on the floor in the living room, sketching and drawing - since then I still do everything for Harvest Card from business development, quality control (wine tasting/experience testing with winery and restaurant partners), order fulfillment for Harvest Card, marketing, advertising, event planning, event execution, strategic planning; anything and everything.
Each season before the next generation of Harvest Card is released I recruit my mom, Nana and best friend, Melissa Sotak, to help with card/package assembly. For the time being it is me, myself and I - If something needs to be done, I have to do it.
How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?: First generation Santa Rosan who loves and appreciates our rich history with an eye toward how we can make SoCo an ever better place for years to come.
Years with company: 2.5
Length of time in current position: 2.5
Number who report to you: 1
Greatest professional accomplishment: My greatest professional accomplishments come to me each time I hear from a winery client and they say, “We just had a Harvest Card Member at the winery and they were amazing!” and each time I hear from a Harvest Card member telling me that they had an incredible time in wine country.
It's also amazing when I hear from local Harvest Card members and they tell me that because of the card and their membership that they are venturing out and trying new wineries and restaurants that they normally would not have visited. My first time being interviewed by Steve Jaxon (KSRO) and Brent Farris (KZST) both of them said “This membership is GENIUS! I mean, who wouldn't want to join? It's for locals as much as it is for visitors”.
Greatest professional challenge: With over 425 wineries in Sonoma County, it's difficult to know where to begin. I've made it my mission to only enlist those wineries that I have personally visited and LOVED- everything from the wine to the hospitality experience.
The greatest challenge, and also greatest reward, has been that I started this company on my own. It's definitely had its challenges, but also knowing that it began with a conversation in my living room with a couple of friends when I was transitioning from a corporate job and to see where I am today, only 2.5 years in, over 1,000 Harvest Card members, 1,300 followers (all organic) on social media.
There are moments when, as a business owner, you know what you would like the end result to be but are not totally clear on how to get there - you can feel a bit lost and overwhelmed. Those times are never fun, but fortunately, I have a really great support system and a network of friends and collogues that I can call upon when I am not sure where to begin.
Best advice received: Sally Srok (Inner Compass Consulting) was introduced to me in the very beginning of Harvest Card and has become a friend and mentor. Since the very beginning, she has told me “Don't be afraid to change your mind; you are not married to the rules of other people at this time; you are the captain of your own ship and need to go where you and your card members want to go.” She also told me that especially as a one-man show, it's really important for you to have a sense of community and not to let myself feel isolated and alone since there is no longer “time at the water cooler” when you work for yourself.
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: Last summer I teamed up with DRNK Wines (Ryan Kunde, owner/winemaker) and Perch & Plow for the first ‘Supper Club'.
One question that I am asked frequently is “How do you actually pick the wine or the food for food and wine pairings?” Ahead of time, Heather Irwin (dining editor, Press Democrat/Sonoma Magazine) and I met with the new executive chef, Ted Williams, to work on and talk through the menu and what he was creating. I did check in with Ryan Kunde to see which wines he was bringing, but I did not actually tell him what Chef Ted had finalized on the menu.
The ‘Harvest Card Supper Club' dinner was an intimate group of 24 individuals, including the winemaker wherein our guests actually got to witness and hear the conversation between the chef “This is what we're having” and the winemaker “This wine will pair really well with”. “And really bring out these flavors!”.