Prestigious awards and gold medals are stock in trade for wineries. They are a major part of helping create a winery’s image and reputation, finding and claiming their niche in the highly competitive industry.
But Laughing Stock Vineyards is focused on building their corporate image as well. There’s no shortage of bling, like winning the Lieutenant Governor’s Award last year, but you are as likely to find owners David and Cynthia Enns written up in business magazines as in wine columns, even earning a spot this year on Profit magazine’s list of the 200 fastest growing Canadian companies. This recognition follows a year after the couple were named as finalists for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
For the two escapees from the financial industry, having a well-run business is serious. But it’s also a running gag that they have kept up since they started in 2003.
“When we launched the winery, we did a tongue in cheek initial public offering, as if we went public — but we’re not, this is a family owned and operated winery,” said David Enns. They’ve kept that as part of their theme, from the winery’s logo — a four-letter LFNG stock symbol on an electronic stock ticker background — to the names of some of their wines, like their flagship Portfolio Bordeaux and constantly changing Blind Trust blends.
“We’ve leveraged that theme all the way along,” said David. “Companies are recognized by their products and their brands.”
Ranking companies by five-year revenue growth, the Profit 200 profiles the country’s most successful growth companies. Laughing Stock comes in at No. 159 on the list, with 279 per cent growth from 2006-2011. The companies’ overall growth is even more substantial, from 500 cases in their first year, 2003, to 6000 cases last year.
“That makes us a medium-sized winery on the bench; it makes us a tiny winery on the global scale,” said Cynthia, adding that it is good to have accolades for their success, but it is mirrored by other wineries along the bench.
“I think we have also rode the wave of the growth of the B.C. wine industry. The Naramata Bench could be on that list in general. What we experienced is part and parcel of what many of the wineries along here have experienced,” said Cynthia. “We were joking it’s the ten-year overnight success. We were winery No. 9 when we started in 2003 and now there are over 25 wineries.”