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Founder Stories: Jake Kloberdanz, CEO

10-06-2017

To cap off our 10-Year Anniversary campaign, our final founder story is that of Jake Kloberdanz, our CEO. He reminisces on how far we've come since our first three warehouses at the beginning of this journey. This is his story.

Jake:

Nostalgia: The first 3 warehouses…

We started with 168 cases - 3 pallets of wine (56 cases per pallet). Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot.

I had driven the first 30 cases, down in my SUV. I left the winery where we made the first cases at 8pm on a Friday night (March 9th). I drove 8 hours straight to Tom Leahy’s house in Newport Beach. His wife came to the door to answer it around 4am. She wiped the sleep from her eyes looked at me smiling and said “hi Jake…. Tommy, Jake’s here to see you”. She turned around and walked back to the bedroom. Tom was still waking up, and I just flipped the lights barged into his room and put the bottle of chard and cab I had in my hands down with authority on his nightstand. I said, “It’s finally here, we’re in business”.

Warehouse #1: I drove home March 10th of 2007 and loaded the other 29 cases and 10 bottles into our first warehouse. It was the extra room on the bottom floor of the house I rented in Manhattan beach. The extra room was too small to rent to anyone so it was used as a storage room. It was musky and felt like an old cellar. In fact the whole bottom floor felt and smelled like a cellar. We didn’t quite have our retail license yet, so all we could do was donate cases until May of 2007.

On March 15th Tom and I worked our first event with ACT Today, who is still our autism charity partner to this day. A lot of people came up and tried the wine that evening and we got solid reviews and the message was resonating with people. One of the last people who came up to the table at the end of the event was a mom whose child was one of the recipients of an ACT Today grant that night. When we told her that every bottle of our Cabernet helped to fund therapy for Children with autism, she was so excited and told us we were the first consumer brand she’d heard of that was trying to raise money for autism. When she found out that we were raising money for breast cancer and AIDS as well, she was moved to tears. We knew we were definitely building something special that day.

Warehouse #2: When we brought the next 138 cases down on June 1st Tom Leahy and I rented a moving truck from budget and loaded them up. We brought the cases to a public storage unit (our second “warehouse”). All of our co-founders were there when we arrived to unload. It was ~60 square feet so we were only able to fit 110 cases in there. The unit was on the 2nd story and we had one dolly. That was on Friday June 1st.

The first dolly was an old red one we “borrowed” from one of the grocery stores I worked at. We used that dolly for the first 3 years, before we bought a pallet jack. I remember Blake and Tom telling me about how the would debate whether it was time to buy a pallet jack. They cost $2,000 and even used ones were $1,000+, so they would analyze it and then put it off for another month and revisit. After 4 months of monthly revisiting we finally upgraded.

Warehouse #3: We drove those other remaining 28 cases that didn’t fit in the public storage unit to Blake and Tom’s place and loaded them into the garage and into their living room which was also on the 2nd story. I vividly remember Sarah Mcpeake carrying 2 cases up the stairs in high heals with ease.

ONEHOPE: Where are we now?

On our 10 year anniversary we are in the final stages of signing a lease for a 70,000 square foot facility in the midwest and a 30,000 square foot facility in Southern California.

That 168 cases of wine we did in year 1 will have grown to an estimated 1,000+ times the volume in the next 12 months.

It's truly incredible to look at how far we have come in the past 10 years. To date, we have donated more than $2.6 million dollars to our various cause partners. We are so grateful for those who have supported us through this journey, we couldn't have made the impact we have thus far without you all.

Cheers to 10 years! (And many more to come)

With gratitude,
The ONEHOPE Team

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