When 2020 began, Broad College alumnus Adam McBride was on track to have a profitable year for his Michigan-based business Hickory Creek Winery. However, his plans quickly changed following the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The week of March 15, 2020, was a blur,” he said, as social distancing was just beginning to take place across Michigan. “Foot traffic had dropped off, but with momentum from the first two months of the year, my small winery seemed to be in good shape to ride out a drop in traffic for a few weeks.”
After further precautions were put into place, ordering all restaurants and bars to cease in-house service, McBride was unsure about the future of his winery, which typically produces 1,500 cases of wine each year. McBride — a two-time graduate of Michigan State University — earned an Executive MBA in 2016 to better speak “the language of business” before following his passion and opening Hickory Creek in 2017.
With the mandatory precautions in place, the winery could no longer offer in-house tastings, which had been its most profitable revenue channel. “Historically, 99.6% of our revenue comes from purchases made during in-person visits,” McBride explained.
He decided to remind the winery’s social media followers of the change in operations and the availability of his online shop, with shipping to Michigan and Illinois available. This brought in a few more orders than normal, but orders really spiked when McBride posted on his personal LinkedIn page, a move that he does not do often.
“The winery’s inbox was blowing up. One after another, order notifications from my e-commerce platform were dropping in,” McBride said. He recognized the names as fellow EMBA classmates; some were friends, but many were people he had not heard from since graduation. “Most of the orders were from classmates who barely knew me in the program. There was even an order from a professor who wouldn’t recognize me if I passed him on the street and probably didn’t even remember my name.”
After a fellow Spartan saw McBride’s post, a Facebook message began circulating among his classmates urging patronage of Hickory Creek Winery. “This is as close to ‘going viral’ as my small winery will probably ever get,” he said.
McBride has been very touched by the efforts of his classmates, explaining that the multitude of orders has given him confidence that his business can survive the economic impacts of coronavirus. “What was clear to me was this group of people were rallying around a classmate and fellow Spartans,” he said. “I’ll admit that it was impossible to keep a dry eye as those orders were coming in.
“It made all the difference in the world to my small business. And psychologically, this changed my entire mindset, giving me hope and a sense of optimism that we will get through this. I’ll never forget the generosity and humanity shown by my fellow Spartans that day.”
To support this Spartan-owned small business, visit HickoryCreekWinery.com.