Located in Santa Rosa, CA, the second-largest family owned winery in the world is showcased on this episode of Undercover Boss. Rick Tigner, president of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates oversees a company of 1,000 employees and produces over 5 million cases of wine a year. Jess Jackson, a former lawyer, originally founded the company in 1982. Rick Tigner worked in various liquor stores and distributors, ending up at Kendall-Jackson as head of sales and marketing. After 19 years, Jess Jackson appointed Tigner president. Jess passed away last April.
Rick Tigner goes undercover in his company as Jake Williams, a grocery store manager with a dream to work in the wine industry. The first stop on his journey is Monterey, CA on the company's 3,000 acres of land. He is working with Laura and the production team to estimate crops. The entire crew on the production team speaks Spanish and Laura only speaks English. Jake has to count clusters to estimate the crop but he keeps breaking them. Rick tries talking to one of the workers but has to keep consulting an English-Spanish dictionary.
The second stop is at the distribution center in Napa, CA. Jake is working with Rene, a truck driver. Jake believes in concierge service for the company's customers and truck drivers are a part of that. The first delivery is at a restaurant during their lunch rush, which doesn't make them happy. Back in the truck, Rene is venting about customers and other employees. Rene is not a team player and only believes in Team Rene, plus he uses foul language. Customer service to Rene means having an empty truck. Jake makes a quick phone call to head of transportation to tell him about Rene. If he weren't undercover Rick would fire him.
An automated bottling plant in Santa Rosa is the third stop on the journey. Jake is working with Marcos, the bottling supervisor. His first job is to keep the conveyor belt loaded with wine bottles. The bottles are falling and breaking because he's struggling and the line has to stop frequently. Marcos moves him over to packing because Jake's costing them money. Unfortunately, he's no better at packaging so he gets moved to the labeler. He finds out Marcos has worked for the company for 20 years and drives over an hour a day to work. He's also a DJ in his spare time. Rick thinks Marcos is a good supervisor but Marcos sometimes doesn't feel appreciated by the company.
Kendall-Jackson created another line of wines called Murphy-Goode, and it's priced lower than their signature brand to try to attract new drinkers. The fourth stop is at a wine tasting event in Healdsburg, CA at a Murphy Goode tasting room. Jake is working with Savannah. She takes him through the skills necessary to work the job but it's a lot of information. He has to pretend to not know a lot about wine during the testing but his customer service skills are behind and it was hard to keep up.
Savannah tells Jake she works 38 hours, has three kids, and no benefits. Since she works under 40 hours she's considered part-time. Her mother passed away from a drug overdose when she was 2. Later, her father and his girlfriend told her to leave at 14 so she did. It brought back memories for Rick whose father went to prison when he was 12 and died of a drug overdose.
Rick calls Rene to the corporate office to talk about his behavior. Rene is nervous but tells Rick what you see is what you get. Kendall-Jackson is not part of Team Rene, his customers are. Rick takes Rene off the truck for 30 days so he can shadow the office workers to learn teamwork. The rest of the reveal is at the Jess Jackson estate.
He tells Laura she's ambitious and energetic and he wants her to join the management program. The company will also create a language communication program to help with communication. He gives her $10,000 to help pay off her student loans.
He tells Savannah she's a great employee, resilient, and inspiring. He donates $10,000 in her name to a homeless shelter of her choice. He makes her a full-time employee, which comes with a $5,000 raise and benefits. The company will cover the first $5,000 of her benefits contribution. Kendall-Jackson will also restart their 401k programs.
Marcos finds out he and Rick started at the company the same week. He gives Marcos $5,000 for his gas to drive back and forth to work. He also gives him $5,000 for new DJ equipment. The company also gives him the first Jess Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award for showing excellence in his job. It comes with $10,000. He also gets $10,000 for a vacation to anywhere he wants to go.
Laura and her crew are receiving language training; Rene, during his training time in the office, figured out a way to simplify paperwork and it's been adopted by the company; Sarah left the company; Marcos got new DJ equipment for the next company party.
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(Photo Source: University of Washington)