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New Vine’s Meltdown: Summary of Act One, Still Waiting For Godot

The sudden collapse and melt-down of direct shipping star New Vine Logistics precipitated a frantic, week-long struggle to find a way to get the company functioning well enough to resume operations for the winery customers who had not already fled the ruins.

With most of the 120-person workforce abruptly terminated on Friday, May 29 and winery inventory locked down, investors chalked up a series of speed-dating sessions with potential suitors and finally reached a non-solution to have Inertia Beverage Group become New Vine’s major creditor with the rights to some vague solution to come.

Numerous readers have emailed Wine Industry Insight and requested a summary of all its news coverage of the New Vine meltdown over the past week. While WII is still working on several articles about the situation, the following is a round-up of the past week, starting with the most recent article.

From all indications, this summary is of the first act only.

FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2009

LIMBO! New Vine’s Interim Funding From IBG Raises More Questions Than Answers

Dante’s first circle of Hell has a special place called limbo which resembles an eternal dentist’s waiting room where you sit forever and never actually get your cavities filled.

Much the same could be said of the vague, deal-in-progress hammered out Thursday afternoon between New Vine …

THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2009

Inertia Beverage Group Acquires/Merges With New Vine

Inertia Beverage Group has emerged the winner in the financial rugby scrum to snag the remains of New Vine Logistics.

Observers said that IBG laid a winning body check on front-runner WTN Services Thursday when Bob Ackerman, Managing Director and Founder of …

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2009

STILL UNDEAD: Employees Fume, Customers Fret As New Vine Bazaar Grinds On

STILL UNDEAD: Employees Fume, Customers Fret As New Vine Bazaar Grinds On

While hopes had been high that New Vine’s investors would quickly find a suitable buyer, those hoped dimmed as the night wore on.

The process frustrated everyone involved, even as progress had been made by whittling down the number of  bidders for New Vine’s bones from yesterday’s 20+ to a more realistic half dozen or so.

Among the frustrated late Wednesday night …

Napa Valley Vintners Issues Bulletin Regarding New Vine Inventory Removal

Napa Valley Vintners Issues Bulletin Regarding New Vine Inventory Removal

Subject:

Inventory Removal from New Vine Logistics …

TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2009

UNDEAD! Suitors Sparring Over New Vine’s Bones

UNDEAD! Suitors Sparring Over New Vine’s Bones

People with a lot of money rarely scurry as fast as the 20+ companies and other parties now clutching for a piece of New Vine’s body.

But unaccustomed as they might be, the tire-kicking and deal-floating have been described by several participants as “a frantic rush to own the body before the last breath has been drawn.”

One person involved in the …

MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009

DEAD! – New Vine Withers After Amazon Bolts & Investors Pull Plug

New Vine Logistics slammed the doors and headed for the hills on May 30, after impatient investors pulled the plug following the direct-shipping company’s mounting losses.
New Vine touted itself as the solution to allowing wineries to sell and ship wine to consumers while complying with the crazy quilt of laws that varied from state to  …

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Comments

7 Responses to New Vine’s Meltdown: Summary of Act One, Still Waiting For Godot

  1. Great coverage of this story! It seems to be that the final outcome here will be dictated by Amazon’s preference for a particular acquirer, whether it be IBG or someone else, for the simple reason that the remaining NVL business WITH Amazon’s future revenues is worth more than WITHOUT it.

  2. A Concerned Ex-employee.

    I have to agree that you have provided great coverage. I would add that former NVL employees have not recieved any communication as to when they would recived their last week’s check and vacation pay. It is also a rumor that the skeleton crew left at NVL have not gotten paid also. Some of us have called, sent emails left voicemails but yet no resposes. This should be of no surprise since Carol Thompson (COO) spent money irresposibly, micromanaged everyone and needed to have control of every situation. So, not only did she run this company to the ground, but also, there was a lack of respect, responsability and loyalty to customers and employees.

  3. A Concerned Ex-employee.

    And to Katie’s comment on previous posts……….I considere Katie to be a great classy lady…….but, she put her company in the hands of the wrong person-Carol-COO. She had not been a COO before and made way too many wrong decisions. She tried to make NVL too big, too fast, getting bigger buildings and hiring way too many DIRECTOR’s and VP’s–spending money where it didn’t need to be spent instead of looking at the talent that she already had within her current employees.

  4. With-held

    I would like to add that the current employees that are still left at NVL HAVE not been paid as of yet. Since pay-day was Friday the 5th, I would say if I were you I’d start getting concerned. I think Carol is making more promises she has no intention on keeping. Someone needs to realize that as long as Carol is in charge of New Vine, it doesn’t stand a chance. The reason the company has gone so far under in the past two years, is a direct result of her lack of leadership. See the light people! If New Vine has any hope of coming out of this with any pieces in-tact, you NEED to get a new leader!

  5. Freight Train

    People are missing the point. NVL had a ridiculous pricing structure whereby the nickeled and dimed clients to oblivion. They also had this stupid management structure whereby it \seemed\ 80% of the company was an executive.

    If IB thinks they can revive this thing they are nuts. If they are nuts, the first thing they need to do is show leadership and fire the entire C-level structure. Everybody gone. Now. After that, they need to streamline the system and price fairly to an industry already under incredible economic stress. I know I know, they create \economic efficiency\ which is a fancy way of saying they are another middleman. A less fancy way is called bull shit.

    If they execute 100% on every step of the restructure (nearly impossible) then maybe they have a slim chance of making it (+-5%)

    Just let it die. Make sure not to do it again.

  6. A Concerned Ex-Employee

    Freight Train! YOU ARE RIGHT! NVL had more VP’s, Directors and Managers than pickers and packers!

    As a side note, the skeletal crew that was left behind has now been sworned into secresy-they have probably been threatened-and will not even let the rest of us know if they got paid or not. –Which for a fact, from a leaky source, they did not get paid.

    If I was in there shoes–I wouldnt of showed up for work today!

  7. John

    I agree whole heartedly with the comments above as to the leadership (or lack thereof) of Carol Thompson. She was the negative turning point on all levels and the reason for continued turnover, confusion, and dissention internally at New Vine.

    Our CEO, Katie Schumcker-Hoertkorn, was indeed a very nice person, although not a very effective CEO. Unfortunately she allowed the hire of an old friend, Carol, and then gave the reins over, and the rest is history.

    Whatever comes of this debacle, it is imperative the Ms. Thompson returns to the East Coast, and leaves the wine industry to recover from what has surely felt a little like the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

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