What Others Say

"VinoPRO's development has accelerated exponentially as a result of the knowledge, experience, and operating skills of Houlihan and Jones. Michael and Martin are hands-on partners who get involved with all aspects of the business. Their collaborative approach, coupled with their insight and market intelligence, has spurred our growth and profitability.


As our business evolved, H&J helped develop and implement the important best practices which have driven our company’s success. Their policies, procedures, financial disciplines, and client development initiatives have all made a direct contribution to the successful management and growth of our business. Specifically, their knowledge, experience, and relationships in the wine industry have provided valuable support in the following areas:
•      Financial modeling, review, oversight, evaluation, planning, budget management, and banking relations
•      Winery client acquisition and relations
•      Sales organization productivity analysis and management
•      Sales meetings and training
•      Marketing programming for client wineries
•      Development and design of management information and tracking systems
•      HR practices and procedures, including recruiting, assessment, compensation programs, and performance management systems
•      Design and development of operating policies and procedures
•      Office facilities selection and lease negotiation
•      Capitalization initiatives and negotiation
•      Legal affairs and compliance matters
•      Publicity, brand building, and PR initiatives to build awareness for the sales channel and VinoPRO's reputation


They are hands-on business development and operating experts, able to take on the toughest of challenges.”

(VinoPRO was recently recognized as an "Inc. 500 Company - Fastest Growing Comapanies in America")
                            - JEFF STEVENSON, CEO & Founder, Provino/VinoPRO Premium Wine

“Houlihan & Jones helped us define a company growth strategy and then took a hands-on role assisting with its execution. Michael and Martin’s knowledge of the business and their expertise in brand building have made a significant contribution to all aspects of our operation, including financial planning, product management, staffing, marketing and distribution. They have been there for us, helping develop new skills as we become a better focused consumer-driven business. Our results have been positive, with solid profit growth in our grasp”.
                            -  GREG FRIES, President, Fries Family Cellars - "Duck Pond Cellars", "Desert Wind Winery"                   

"Martin - On behalf of Beam Suntory, thank you for your outstanding assistance with the Luxco case."

                            -  TODD BLOOMQUIST, General Counsel - Beam Suntory


"Martin - you crushed it. As you can see from the opinion, Judge St. Eve obviously found you quite compelling and credible."

                            -  John E. Schreibner, Partner, Winston & Strawn, LLP


"Exit strategy, brand building and value creation seminar provided good strategic suggestions from two guys who really have been in the trenches."
                            - CAROL SHELTON, Carol Shelton Wines

“Martin Jones’ unique depth of knowledge and experience in the beverage alcohol business makes him a highly effective expert witness. His analytical and communication skills are a great plus to a litigation team.”
                            - DAVID MASSEY, Bilzin Sumberg, Attorneys At Law

"Very great class and presenters...Both Mike and Martin brought immense industry experience...well worth the time and money."
                            - CHRIS COLEMAN, Founder, The 20 Wines

"Thanks for the follow up by sending the PDF of the class slides and the excellent program. I picked up several "gems" and will use them as we move forward with our business and will strongly recommend your class to others."
                            - PHIL FREESE, PF Wines

"... I would like to thank you for your continued support and time that you provide SSU and the Wine Business Institute. Without your dedication we would not be growing our program at the rate we are..."
                            - RAY JOHNSON, Director Wine Business Institute, Sonoma State University


"I have known Martin Jones for over fifteen years and worked closely with him first as President and CEO of Corby Distilleries, and then as President and CEO of Allied Domecq USA. I found Martin not only an effective executive and people-person, but had a creative approach to identifying and solving problems in a timely manner. He is well known for his broad knowledge of the various elements of the wine and spirits industry, along with a strategic but practical approach to the overall business." 
                            - GEORGE McCARTHY, Chairman, Corby Distilleries, Limited
                                                                          former Chairman, Americas, Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine


“Michael, when I was first approached about carrying Barefoot wines at Trader Joe's I thought the timing was perfect. Our customers were in the process of changing from beer and wine coolers to premium wine. I thought Barefoot was the perfect wine for that transition because the name and the label looked like fun. Many customers were intimidated by hard to pronounce names on wines, but Barefoot gave them a chance to try a premium wine that fit into the California lifestyle. Once they tasted it, they usually came back for more because the wine was always an outstanding buy. The juice inside the bottle always over delivered for the price. If you want anything else from me, please let me know.”
                            - TIM BEKINS, Senior Buyer, Trader Joe's

"... I have known Martin for approximately fifteen years, working with him throughout my career at Domecq Importers, Allied Domecq and Pearl Spirits. He is a highly respected, hands-on leader and an insightful professional with a deep understanding of the US beverage alcohol industry. Throughout our relationship, he has provided me with indispensable direction and advice that has helped me develop my own management potential. Martin’s analytical ability and planning skills have always provided an advantage to the businesses he has managed ...."
                            - LARRY FIORETTI, Executive Vice President, Sales, Western Spirits Beverage Company
                                                                   former Vice President, Sales, Allied Domecq Spirits, USA


"I've known Michael for twenty-five years and watched him grow one of the great brands in the industry bottle by bottle, account by account, month by month, and year by year. Michael has been there, done it, and now has graciously put himself out there to pass on the wisdom to others."
                            - JOHN A. HINMAN, Hinman & Carmichael LLP

" ...I have known Martin Jones for over twelve years and had the opportunity to work for and with him for three of those years. Martin has a full knowledge of every aspect relating to the sale, marketing and contributing factors which lead to the success of beverage alcohol products. He is a proven leader, motivator, and brand developer. Of equal importance and strength is his talent in budgeting and financial management as they relate to delivering results and a profitable enterprise..."
                            - RON JOHNSON, former Sr. Vice President, Sales, St. Supery Vineyards & Winery
                                                               former Executive Vice President, Allied Domecq Spirits, USA
                                                               former Executive Vice President, Allied Domecq Wine


"I have known Martin for ten years and have found him to operate with the highest level of judgment and integrity. Martin has proven to be a quick study, adapting from his previous role in the supplier tier to his role as General Manager of our wine and spirits distribution business. Throughout his time working with my family business, he demonstrated strong leadership skills, vast industry knowledge, and a sound and effective style of management. His insights, innate abilities, and obvious business acumen added to our company’s success in the Wine and Spirits distribution business in the highly competitive New York marketplace. He was an invaluable asset to me in helping us through the successful sale of our company. Martin’s industry background, combined with his strategic planning and execution skills, make him highly qualified to provide hands-on service in all areas of our industry."
                            - MARC D. TAUB, President, Palmbay International


"I could not recommend Martin Jones more highly for any position in the Beverage Industry he chooses to undertake. In both of the companies I have interfaced with Martin, I have seen his years of practical experience combined with his "out of the box" thinking result in very successful outcomes. His understanding of the industry triage necessary to rescue or improve the business model is unsurpassed. Having Martin Jones on your team would be one of the best business decisions your company ever made."
                            - TONI ANDERSON, Comptroller and Financial Management Service’s Provider


"Martin is a productivity expert who understands the multi-dimensional, often complex, wine industry. He is a hard driving, results oriented manager able to balance the interests of all stake holders. His years of general management experience in both corporate and private business are a great complement to his strategic ability. Well rounded skills in sales, marketing, finance, and operations equip him for the most challenging assignments."
                            - JAMES R. ROSE, Attorney, St. Helena, California


"I worked with Martin for about two years at Kirkland Ranch Winery while they went through bankruptcy. Martin was the General Manager at Kirkland and was involved with all aspects of the winery. Through his industry contacts he was able to immediately increase their sales and liquidate slow-moving inventory, providing much needed cash. He prepared a very accurate cash budget and made sure they only spent what was authorized. He was able to keep the winery running even though they were short of cash and personnel. Martin has a great deal of knowledge about successful winery practices, and a wide range of industry contacts that he can call on to get things done quickly. It was a pleasure working with him. He has my highest professional and personal recommendation."
                            - DOUG McCORKLE, Partner, B2B CFO®


"Michael is a dynamic speaker to whom audiences respond very well. His effective speaking style combined with his vivid examples taken from his successful career as an entrepreneur always command a very positive audience response. He has an energetic style combined with rich stories."
                            - VIC MOTTO, Global Wine Partners

“Michael is an informative, challenging and engaging speaker. He holds the attention of the audience while he entertains and educates. He gives a unique perspective that can only come from experience.”
                            - DR. WILLIAM SILVER, Dean, Professor of Business Administration
                                                                        School of Business and Economics, Sonoma State University


"…  Michael is a dynamic and entertaining speaker, who mixes real-world experience with a “can-do” philosophy that energizes an audience.  I strongly recommend him.


From 1990 to 2006 I organized a 3-week summer program on wine business and marketing here at U.C. Davis… 
Michael’s presentation at our class was on wine distribution, but it really centered on his own personal story about building Barefoot into a 500,000 case brand.  Although he drew on personal experiences which made his talk real, what was more important was his broader philosophy of personal power/responsibility.  He would tell my students 'although you are being paid by your boss, you really are working for yourself. Take the initiative to make things happen' and then he would give an example that would be both funny and illustrative.  At the end of his session the class members had learned the nuts and bolts of wine distribution, but, more importantly, they had been energized to take control of their lives.


Michael is an engaging, funny, experienced, wise, and philosophical speaker who will leave members of your audience feeling empowered, ready to tackle the world, and with a smile on their faces."
                            - JIM LAPSLEY, Ph.D. Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis;
                                                       Researcher, UC Davis; Emeritus Continuing  Educator, UC Davis Extension      


"Michael Houlihan speaks to audiences intimate to grand from a place of passion rooted in real world pragmatism.  Engaging fully with each set of eyes in a room, all the while drawing from a narrative that is chock full of sage advice, makes his you-can-do-this challenge to audiences entirely palpable.  I've never heard Michael close on anything other than what can turn the most apathetic listener into player ready to take it on with renewed purpose." 
                            - CRAIG ANDERSON, Executive Director, Land Paths

"Michael has been a guest speaker on many occasions at the Wildwood Foundation. His talks have had an immediate and continuing effect on donations. He is a motivator and a producer! We look forward to having him speak again."                            
                            - MARTIN MEIER, Events Manager, Wildwood Retreat, Wildwood Conservation Foundation

“Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting Michael Houlihan at many wine industry events, and he has always been a gracious and engaging man… Together Bonnie, Michael and Rick have put together a story that is a quick and fun read that subtly gives you great business insight….”."Career Advice in the Wine Industry - Book Review, "The Barefoot Spirit" Tuesday, December 11, 2012 
                            - AMY GARDNER, Principal, Wine Talent