This Hiring Strategy is Key to Growth for William Chris

If you’re looking to drive growth, William Chris Wine Company COO Andrew Sides recommends investing in the right people.

The growth trajectory is continuing for the Hye, Texas company, which recently expanded its staff by filling four newly created leadership positions this month.

Sides said the company was constantly looking for ways to improve the business and customer experience through intention and process. 

A lot of that process involves dedication to detail and making sure too many people aren’t doing too many things, and making sure the right people are in the right places is essential, he added.

“Well, to be very frank, the positions have to drive growth or we made the wrong decision in creating them,” Sides said. “There’s definitely a ‘catch up’ period where it takes time for people in the role to truly impact the company from a growth perspective but people are the greatest investment our company makes which is why we put such an emphasis on making sure we have the right people in the right places.”

The new positions include Director of Culinary Skip King, Chief People Officer David Oelrich,  Director of Memberships Valerie Elkins. Additionally, Kelsey Kramer was promoted from Content Marketing Manager to Director of Education.

The director of culinary role is intended to give William Chris more opportunities to educate its customers about how to enhance their wine with food. 

King’s role includes maintaining the day-to-day food and wine pairing experiences at all locations, with plans to expand and enhance the seasonal offerings. He is also tasked with developing William Chris Vineyards’ on-site garden to supplement the culinary program and wine dinners, along with creating new relationships with local farmers to source produce and high-quality protein.

The new hire does not necessarily foreshadow an eventual on-site restaurant.

“This position is centered around creating new experiences and seeing the overall ‘big picture’ of the culinary department,” Sides said. “The future holds many things, and maybe one day we will talk about having an on-site restaurant, but for now, our main focus is letting wine and food work together.”

Kramer’s promotion represents an ascent from her initial role as tasting room ambassador, where she designed five immersive wine experiences and developed the private virtual tasting program during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Her role’s new responsibilities will include identifying, developing, and maintaining all educational initiatives for staff, industry, trade, and guests with the goal of increasing the standards of knowledge about WCWC, the Texas wine industry, and their context within the vast world of wine. It also involves maintaining the WCWC brands’ technical database of its wine collections, vineyards, and vintages, and provide daily educational access for staff members.

Sides said it was important to promote from within for myriad reasons.

“We want to invest in our team and give them a great place to work, and it’s important to us that our team sees room for growth both in their personal and career development,” Sides said. “With that comes creating a path for them within William Chris Wine Co. People enjoy doing the things they are good at, and that is the beauty of a growing company.”

As the company’s first-ever chief people officer, Oelrich will lead, assess, mentor, and support team members to cultivate a motivating working culture and develop the infrastructure to maintain the growth and success of the company. He was previously the senior HR director at a biotech startup in Austin, Texas.

The new director of memberships will drive member engagement and oversee a new wine club ambassador program designed to maximize the value members get from being part of William Chris Wine Company wine clubs.

Elkins worked in technology development and process management before getting involved in the wine industry.

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