Ken Lineberger, a former sales and marketing professional with a major software company, embarked on a new entrepreneurial journey after spending nearly 20 years in the corporate world. In 2004, along with his wife Angela, he co-founded The Wine Tailor in Rancho Cucamonga.
Ken saw an opportunity to bring the best of his corporate experience to a small business model. His vision was to create a replicable template that could be expanded to other locations across the United States.
In 2012, this vision became a reality when Waters Edge Wineries was established as the franchise brand, selling winery franchises nationwide.
After dedicating a significant portion of his career to the corporate world, Ken sought a new path that would provide greater control over the customer experience. Striving to prove that a better approach was possible, he ventured into uncharted territory by creating a wine production business without the need for grape harvesting.
The Wine Tailor, the first retail winery founded by Ken and Angela, opened its doors in 2004 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, offering guests a unique and personalized wine experience.
However, they soon realized that the name didn’t fully capture the essence of their offerings, leading them to rebrand and incorporate “winery” into their name and brand identity.
Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey can be daunting, especially for newcomers. However, Ken Lineberger, a seasoned entrepreneur with a track record of success, demonstrates that it is far from impossible.
With four successful ventures over the past two decades, Ken has learned valuable lessons along the way. He emphasizes the importance of patience, a trait that didn’t always come naturally to him. Balancing his sense of urgency with the slower pace of external entities, such as government agencies, required significant adjustment.
Ken’s professional career began in the corporate world, where he served as a regional sales manager for a prominent software company for over 20 years. The demands of constant travel became overwhelming, particularly after starting a family.
Like many entrepreneurs and corporate employees, Ken struggled with relying on others over whom he had no control to meet customer expectations. Being the face of the company while bearing the brunt of dissatisfaction with various aspects of the organization was frustrating.
Driven by the desire to have more control over the customer experience and to prove that a better approach was possible, Ken made the bold decision to leave the corporate world behind. He entered uncharted territory with a unique concept: creating a wine production business without the need to harvest grapes and then franchising this concept nationwide.
In 2004, the first retail winery, “The Wine Tailor,” was established in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Setting themselves apart, they offered customized wine options for guests. However, they soon realized that the name didn’t fully convey their unique offerings, prompting a rebranding to incorporate “winery” into their branding.
By 2012, Ken’s concept had matured, and the time was ripe for franchising. Recognizing the challenges of wearing two hats as a retail winery operator and a franchise brand developer, Ken sold the first location and rebranded as “Waters Edge Wineries.”
The transition from independent operator to franchisor was complex, but it paved the way for a strong system that provided significant value to both franchisees and guests at Waters Edge Wineries locations.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Ken’s venture has been witnessing the success of the franchisees. Their achievements are reflected in the outpouring of positive reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp, contributing to Waters Edge Wineries becoming the largest winery franchise system in the United States.
However, the entrepreneurial journey has not been without challenges. Ken acknowledges that one of the most disheartening aspects has been dealing with the litigious side of franchising. Waters Edge Wineries has encountered individuals who disregard contractual obligations and misappropriate their intellectual property and hard-earned expertise.
While the brand has faced this predicament three times, they have been successful in two cases and anticipate a favorable outcome in the third. Moving forward, they have learned to be more discerning about who they allow into their franchise system.
Looking ahead, Ken and his team are excited about expanding the Waters Edge Wineries brand to multiple cities in 2023. The satisfaction of building a company that positively impacts the lives of thousands, from franchisees and their employees to the guests who visit their locations, is immeasurable. Waters Edge Wineries is committed to delivering a phenomenal wine experience and eagerly anticipates the next chapter of growth and success.