We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Gallen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
For many years I had been working for other wine importers as a salesperson and then sales manager and while I had always imagined having my own business I never really had enough confidence to go out on my own. When I was let go from my last salaried position, by a company that subsequently went out of business a few years later, instead of panicking I decided to make the leap to opening my own wine import and distribution company.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am truly a small business. It is just me, my phone, my computer and a lot of grit. But what is deceptively simple is actually a complex logistical dance to get wine from the cellars of amazing small wine grower/producers on one side of the world into your glass on the other side of the world. It involves first finding the winery that makes the sort of wines that interest me and will also interest my customer. All of my wineries farm their grapes using either organic or biodynamic methods to ensure the least amount of man-made chemicals in the finished wine as possible. Wine is a healthy food that in moderation provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may improve the flora in your stomach, is good for your heart and mind. I speak Italian fluently (as well as Spanish and some terrible French!) and this has always been a huge benefit to me as it builds immediate trust when I can follow along and participate in the lives of my producers in their mother tongue. And then it is really the fantastic work of all of my partners that makes the journey hopefully smoother as time goes on. The salesperson for my distributor who loves my wines and shows them to all her customers. The wine buyer who wants something no one else has and to take their clients on a journey. The consumer who hears the story of my tiny little farmer from the farthest reaches of Italy, France, Spain or Portugal and wants to try something unique. All of this is to say that while my business may be considered small by some standards, through the sales of my company I have provided not only a good living for me and my family but also for the producers and their families and the logistics companies and their families and the customs house brokers and their families and my customers and their families and their customers and so on . . . it is how a business like mine becomes part of the fabric of my local community and also the world community. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without the love and support of my wife, Karyn, I couldn’t have made the leap to owning my own business. I told her that for the first few years I wasn’t going to make any money and when we went to apply for the loan on our house we had to turn in three years of tax returns and when the loan officer went over the disclosures with us my wife said, “When you told me you weren’t going to make any money for a few years I thought you meant you were going to make at least a little money but you really meant no money!” But since then my business has soared. I have also had a great mentor without whom I wouldn’t have been able to get through some of the tough times. His advice on all things import and distribution has been invaluable to the success of my business.
Youtube: Rinascimento Wine Company