J. SMOKE WALLIN Serial Entrepreneur, Strategy for Business & Life
J. Smoke Wallin is an accomplished leader and successful entrepreneur in the beverage & technology industries. He has advised many of the most successful brands and distributors on their “go-to-market” strategies. His business partners and customers have included: Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Bacardi, Beam, Boon Rawd (Singha Brewery) Credit Suisse, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard, Seagram, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, the major beer, wine and spirits distributors, as well as 100s of other wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage clients globally. He has raised over $350 million in debt and equity, publicly and privately for deals he led or was CFO, acquired 20+ companies and divested half a dozen companies.
Mr. Wallin is Chairman, CEO and founder of eSkye Solution a software provider to the beverage and retail industries. He is founder and Managing Director of Taliera, an importer and brand distribution platform that creates, incubates, introduces and grows brands in the beverage alcohol industry. Taliera is licensed by the US Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) and by each state alcohol authority.
Mr. Wallin acquired the Napa Smith Brewery & Winery in 2010 and served as Chairman & CEO until 2014. Mr. Wallin also served as Managing Director of Lipman Brands, a beverage brand company. He set up a national distribution network for Lipman in 2013.
Wallin founded Paddington Brands and Pelican Brands in 2009 and grew them to over $5 million in 36 months before selling their major brands. He also reorganized Singha Beer’s route to market in the US.
In 1988, Mr. Wallin joined National Wine & Spirits (NWS), a $150 million single state wine and spirits distributor. As head of the corporate group, and later as the CFO, EVP & Director from 1993-2004, Wallin led the strategic thinking and execution at NWS, which created a $1 billion plus multi-state wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage distributor. He also led the industry in Washington D.C. when he served as Chairman, President & a Director of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 1996-2004. Wallin helped create WSWAs Council for Leadership Development. Smoke currently serves on the Government Affairs committee for the Brewers Association.
In 1991, while running the beverage division of NWS, Wallin co-founded Cameron Springs Company, which became the leading bottled water brand in its markets, and eventually sold to Nestle in 2000. In 1997, Wallin backed, both financially and operationally, the creation of United States Beverage “USB”, which imported and marketed over 12 million cases of premium beer (Grolsch) and ready-to-drink (Seagram Coolers) brands in the US. That same year, Wallin created NWS Michigan, which captured 60% of the State of Michigan’s liquor business as it privatized. NWS Michigan now ships over $400 million of spirits and wine.
Wallin founded eSkye.com in 1999 and went on to raise over $60 million of venture funding. eSkye developed and deployed technology for the global beverage industry. With offices in Napa, Madrid, London, Bangalore and Oslo, Wallin acquired 6 software companies, integrated them and grew them four-fold before selling the global winery software division to publicly traded Constellation Software in 2007. eSkye’s “National Account Manager” is currently the industry leader in connecting the beverage supply chain – brand owners to key national accounts (e.g. Wal-Mart and Walgreens) and distributors in 50 states for Vendor Managed Pricing (VMP).
Mr. Wallin served as President & CEO for Stillhouse Moonshine. He helped develop the brand concept, prepared it for launch and created a full sourcing, distribution and sales plan. Shortly before launch, the investors successfully exited by selling 50% of the brand to a major supplier for $5 million.
Smoke is Chairman & founder of the Beer Industry Technology Symposium and the Beer Symposium (BITS), the leading organization where strategy meets technology for the beer industry. In 2005 Wallin founded serves as Co-Chairman of the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) the leading gathering of CIOs, wineries and technology companies in the industry.
In addition to his extensive entrepreneurial activity, Wallin is a frequent public speaker, advisor and guest lecturer on strategic, market, financial and legislative issues of the beverage alcohol industry and leadership and entrepreneurship generally. He has served on the boards of three SEC publicly reporting companies.
Smoke served as Chairman of the Young President Organization’s (YPO & WPO) Global Beer, Wine & Spirits Business Network which he recently merged into the Food & Beverage Network. He has been an active member of YPO since 2003. Wallin served as President of the Vanderbilt Business School Alumni Board from 2008-2010 and on the board from 1998-2010. He served as Chairman of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana from 1999-2000 and on its board from 1993-2004. He also served as Chairman of the foundation and during his watch created the Gene B. Glick JA Education Center, a unique experiential learning center. He is the 2001 recipient of the E&Y Entrepreneur of Year Award, the 1998 Vanderbilt Distinguished Alumni Award and a 1996 National Junior Achievement Bronze Leadership award. Wallin is a 1995 graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series (Class XX) and was selected for Indianapolis 40 under 40 by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 1998.
Mr. Wallin got his start in the hospitality industry at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, The Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City and The Ritz Carleton Hotel in Boston.
Wallin has an MBA in finance, marketing & operations from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School and a BS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. He was a member of the Cornell wrestling team and Sigma Nu Fraternity. Mr. Wallin is an Eagle Scout and the father of two Eagle Scout sons. He lives in Indianapolis, IN with his wife Anitra and his four children, Skye, Cameron, Sierra and Talli.