Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

October 21, 2008 23:59 ET

Genuwine Cellars captivates discriminating tastes - Robb Denomme wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Manitoba

WINNIPEG, Oct. 21 - Over 13 years, Robb Denomme has focused
on building Genuwine Cellars into one of the world's premier manufacturers of
custom-made wine cellars. Today, the thriving business caters to an "A-list"
clientele of renowned hotels, business figures and celebrities. In recognition
of the company's remarkable success, 31-year old Robb, Genuwine's co-owner,
has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Manitoba and will be honoured
tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.
From its start in a Winnipeg garage in 1995, Genuwine Cellars has grown
to include a team of 50, with a design centre in every major city in Canada
and many in the United States. At the beginning of 2008, it also opened an
operation in Nicaragua to help keep up with demand. "We've done work all over
the world, including Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Bermuda," says Robb,
who co-owns the business with wood craftsman Lance Kingma.
After making a wine cellar for one client, Lance was asked to do another
one. To get the job done, he asked Robb, who was 17 at the time, to help.
Neither of them had specialized training in wine cellars, but they continued
to build them on request through their single client: a specialty wine shop.
"I knew you should never have just one client, but it wasn't until that client
ran into trouble that I took action," Robb explains.

Knocking on the right doors

He went on the road, knocking on the right doors and approaching high-end
wine stores, dealers and luxury home builders in major cities. "Business just
started flowing in. We've been able to build a brand without any advertising."
With no formal business training, Robb believes he was born an
entrepreneur. "My father had his own construction company and I learned a lot
from him about how to deal with customers, and how every job is different."
Experience as a manager in the restaurant industry also helped him hone the
skills needed to run a business. His business partner, Lance, continues to
work at Genuwine, doing what he loves most: woodworking.
Robb believes that Genuwine's design capability and the quality of its
products are what set it apart. "There are a lot of companies that sell custom
wine cellars, but they don't manufacture them." But handling both design and
manufacturing has also posed a significant challenge. "One of the biggest
hurdles was to develop an infrastructure to support all of this. None of what
we do is standard; it's different every time." To address the issue, he and
Lance introduced lean manufacturing principles and an organizational structure
that incorporates sales, design and manufacturing functions. Hiring an outside
business consultant, who has become Robb's mentor, has also helped.
"Robb has applied his instinctive entrepreneurial know-how to build a
business that is now flourishing in a highly exclusive market niche," says BDC
President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
Beyond the appeal of Genuwine's distinctive craftsmanship, Robb feels
that the company's success can also be attributed to an in-depth understanding
of customers and a great team of talented people. "We could never have done
any of it without this team."

Highlighting young leaders

BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week.
They recognize the entrepreneurial spirit, and the business and leadership
accomplishments, of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each
province and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of
their business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. The
panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and
any special challenges that were overcome.

Small Business Week partners

Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Rogers, Western
Economic Diversification Canada and Export Development Canada. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.

About BDC

BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 94 branches across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. BDC works with
entrepreneurs in all industries, through all economic cycles and focuses on
helping small and medium sized businesses in their development projects, local
and global. BDC manages a $10.6 billion loan and investment portfolio and
serves over 28,000 clients. Small and medium sized businesses make up 99.7% of
all employer businesses in Canada. Visit for more information.

Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.

Contact Information

  • BDC Media Room: (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
    Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929