CEO Dialogue, John E. Peller – January 2021

Andrew Peller Limited is one of Canada’s leading producers and marketers of quality wines and craft beverage alcohol products. John E. Peller, O.C. is the President and CEO of Andrew Peller Limited, having joined in 1989 as Vice President, Sales and Marketing Planning. He was appointed President and CEO in 1994 and Chairman of the Board of Directors in November 2017. In December of 2020, John E. Peller was awarded the honour of Officer of the Order of Canada for his outstanding contributions to the Canadian Wine Industry, his dedication to community and service to Canada.

John recently spoke to our members about how 2020, a year like no other, has changed business and business management, and will continue to shape the future.

2020 required rapid modification and implementation of digital strategies. Last year John made the decision to invest in a new, cloud-based ERP system – one of their largest capital investments of the past decade. Embracing digital disruption and reassessing business models to determine how to leverage new innovations in digital will be our largest task for future success, John told members. It is clear to John that in 10 to 20 years businesses won’t be making money the same way, and smart investments are required today to ensure future operations. Digital disruption is really about how your company can learn and grow together as a team through big changes. By engaging your team in meaningful discussion, training, and keeping a pulse on employee impact, you can position your company to maintain its legacy while evolving with the technology.

Andrew Peller Ltd. has successfully evolved from a small, family business to a publicly traded company through its balanced approach to acquisitions and organic growth. John credits balancing the benefits of scale and capability of large-scale production facilities with a small business orientation that breeds and cultivates innovation. While this model – big scale facilities, creating specialized products, distributed through multiple, diverse channels – can feel counter-intuitive and fragmented, it has been key to their success. Also, government regulations (trade, distribution, health, etc.) make government relations critical to business growth. As we enter a hyper-competitive era with an overall disadvantage versus the US, businesses and government will need to work together carefully to ensure we build the economy and improve societal benefits together.

In 2017, Canada’s family enterprises accounted for 63.1% of all private sector firms, and generated almost half of all private sector employment.* Family businesses have a sizable footprint and impact on Canada’s economy. John understands and has always carefully navigated the unique dynamic of working in and managing a large, family business. It is a complicated business structure that requires a professional management protocol for all family members involved. Within the “family assembly”, transparency and respect are critical factors for success. With a younger generation that is so capable, with access to so much knowledge, technology and opportunity, family businesses have a bright future ahead.