J. SMOKE WALLIN Serial Entrepreneur, Community & Industry Leader
J. Smoke Wallin is an accomplished leader and successful entrepreneur in the beverage & technology industries. He has spent the last 20 years creating, leading or advising many of the most successful brand owners and distributors on their “go-to-market” strategies, market execution plans and
capital raising/investments. His business partners and customers have included: Anheuser- Busch, Credit Suisse, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard, Allied Domecq, Seagram, & Coca-Cola Enterprises, as well as 100s of wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage clients from North America to Spain to New Zealand. He has raised over $350 million in debt and equity, publicly and privately for deals he led or was CFO, acquired 19 companies and divested half a dozen companies.
In 1988, Mr. Wallin joined National Wine & Spirits (NWS) was 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 & Director of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 1996- 2004. Wallin helped create the Council for Leadership Development with some fellow up-and-coming leaders of the WSWA to foster leadership for the long term.
In 1991, while running the non-alcoholic division of NWS, Wallin co-founded Cameron Springs Company, which later became the leading bottled water brand in its markets, and eventually sold to Nestle in 2000. In 1997, Wallin backed, 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 eSkye offices in Glen Ellen, Madrid, London, Bangalore and Oslo, Wallin acquired 6 other software companies under eSkye, 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 beverage brand owners to key national accounts such as Wal-Mart.
In 2006, Wallin founded Taliera Holdings, a company set-up to acquire and build beverage brands with partner Skeeter Johnston of Coca Cola Enterprises. Taliera acquired the Red Eye brand of Bloody Mary mixes in 2008 and has re-branded it and launched it in multiple markets across the US.
Wallin is also the founder and Co-Chairman of the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) the leading gathering of CIOs, winery owners and technologist in the industry. He serves as Chairman of Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry with a focus on the next generation wine consumer.
In 2009, Mr. Wallin founded Pelican Brands, a national brand manager, importer and distributor of premium beer and beverage brands. Pelican’s first major brand is the national beer of Thailand, Singha which they are managing for the US market. He also founded Paddington Corporation, a brand incubator and accelerator for the global beverage industry.
In addition to his extensive entrepreneurial activity, Wallin is a frequent public speaker and advisor and guest lecturer on strategic, market, financial and legislative issues of the beverage alcohol industry and entrepreneurship. He has served on the boards of three SEC public reporting companies including publicly traded Centiv which was later taken private.
Wallin serves as President of the Vanderbilt Business School Alumni Board. He served as Chairman of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana as well as its foundation and during his watch created the Gene B. Glick JA Education Center, the most unique experiential learning center in the country. He is the 2001 winner of the E&Y Entrepreneur of Year Award, the 1998 winner of the Vanderbilt Distinguished Alumni Award and a 1996 National Junior Achievement Bronze Leadership award recipient. Wallin is a 1995 graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series (Class XX).
Wallin has an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a BS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. Mr. Wallin is an Eagle Scout and the father of two Eagle Scout sons. He lives in Carmel, IN with his wife Anitra and his four children, Skye, Cameron, Sierra and Talli.