Generational Business Series Part #1: Scott Labs

The wine industry is no stranger to multi-generational family businesses. Survival is not assured nor easy. Succession may be a science of tax and finance, but the art is nurturing an enduring mission. 

 The new mission of Scott Labs includes “… we believe in education, honesty and doing the right thing.” The wording is new, but the sentiment has been there since the beginning. It has applied to generations of clients, employees and suppliers. Tomasello, Mondavi, Weibel, Wente, Pederoncelli to name some multigen clients. Supplier examples: LALLEMAND (46years Gen3), ICAS (55 years Gen3), WILLMES (66 years Gen3), ARMBRUSTER (30 years Gen2), and RELVAS Cork (48 years Gen3). "Doing the right thing" pays relationship dividends in this long-term business. 

I will be posting some of these relationships in the weeks to come. I hope these stories show our belief in the value of personal business. This first post will give a taste of our own family's Scott Lab story.  

Scott Laboratories was born out of the ashes of prohibition. UC Berkeley was the only UC back then and housed the yeast library.  

In 1934 the UC wine lab and library transferred to a grad student, Julius Fessler (above circa 1930). Over 30 years, Julius developed new tools and became the OG of wine chemistry for the USA. My grandfather bought the firm in 1964 to invigorate it for a surging wine industry (Ground breaking below with Richmond Mayor George Carroll). Step 1: Get product. In dozens of European trips, Robert Scott forged relationships and created access. Many of the original brands he sourced are still dominant today.

Fast forward 10 years, my father and uncle joined the firm (Stephen and Bruce below with Robert Scott) . Stephen was an actor in LA and Bruce a PhD candidate in History at UCLA. They brought their unique talents to a changing environment. Bruce shifted the company from access to "translation” over the next 40 years. Sure, some was literal language translation (equipment manuals!) Other translation was in product applications between European and American realities and style. Context became our value for clients and suppliers. 

As the third generation of Scotts took the lead the value proposition was again explored (Bruce with son and Scott Labs President Alex and nephew). Today we bring education and products to market but focus them through the customer lens. Our Vision: To provide the best customer experience to the specialty beverage community. Transparency, ease, speed, support, access and knowledge are value. We base our success on the client's outcome.

Business changed. Industry changed. Our value prop changed. Our core mission and values did not. Partnerships survived and thrived with wineries, employees and vendors. We were successful believing in core values and layering them on business realities. Not the reverse.  

Business is personal. Generational business is more. It's family. 

Zachary Scott, CEO, Scott Laboratories