The Nordby Effect

Reliable General Contractor Partners Are Critical For Duckhorn’s Growth

Posted by Zachary Rasmuson on May 17, 2018 7:05:00 AM

Duckhorn Wine Company has set the standard for American fine wine for almost four decades. Today, our Duckhorn family includes Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy and Canvasback. In a number of ways, meeting our business goals for growth requires partnering together with insightful and trustworthy general contractors and tradespeople on wine facility expansion projects. More specifically, engaging reliable building professionals on one or more short-term projects is mission critical to a project’s success in terms of cost, quality, and efficiency.

Duckhorn Waterfowl Barrel Building Celebration

Waterfowl Barrel Building, Project Completion Celebration

As chief operations officer for Duckhorn Wine Company, my role is to help guide the growth of the company’s wine-making facilities while maintaining the integrity and continuity synonymous with the Duckhorn brand.  Drawing upon my winemaking experience that spans multiple appellations, brands and styles, I oversee every aspect of production including winemaking, grower relations, and production facilities in Napa Valley, Anderson Valley, Sonoma County, and Red Mountain in Washington state.  All of my efforts have one unifying theme, being a duck!

When looking for insightful general contractors, Cian Woods, Duckhorn’s vice president of asset management and facilities, brings an invaluable nuts and bolts approach. He has a wealth of experience as a mechanical engineer and construction project manager overseeing large infrastructure projects that required strong oversight of contractors and subcontractors. Fortunately, the Wine Country now benefits from his talents when he decided to make a career transition into winery operations and production. He’s run several harvests for a number of well-known brands including Saintsbury, Diageo, and Sterling Vineyards. In his sixth year of working Duckhorn, Cian is a dynamic partner. 

“As we grow in complexity, Duckhorn needs smart project teams who are honest, experienced, knowledgeable and instinctively know the Duckhorn way of doing things.”

- Cian Woods, VP of Asset Management & Facilities 

Finding reliable resources is essential for business growth. It is important for us to find likeminded contractors who treat us fairly, understand how we operate and bring new solutions. It is beneficial to have a trusted partner early on who can help offer up ideas for saving money along the way. In the case of working with Nordby Construction Company on the Goldeneye winery facility, the team delivered tangible business results for Duckhorn. The project was change order neutral and ahead of schedule. The shortened schedule provided cost-savings and allowed us to get up and running ahead of schedule.

It’s important to trust a building partner to meet project milestones. Cian says, “As we grow in complexity, Duckhorn needs smart project teams who are honest, experienced, knowledgeable and instinctively know the Duckhorn way of doing things.” Explaining further he offered up an example of working with Nordby’s Tony Simmons on Duckhorn’s Waterfowl Barrel Building, “Tony brought on a local fabricator and was able to articulate Duckhorn’s back of house focus…that was important.” Cian's role requires him to work directly with general contractors and reliability is critical for the team's success.  He says, “With every relationship, it is important for us to be able to trust. I have to be able to trust a contractor to get the job done before harvest. Milestones can become more important that cost at times.”

"It is important for us to find likeminded contractors who treat us fairly, understand how we operate and bring new ideas."

- Zach Rasmuson, COO

Balancing growth with productivity requires resources familiar with Duckhorn practices. Over the next two years, Duckhorn will require resources for four moderately large-scale projects.  This level of growth will require hiring general contractors and tradespeople who are familiar with Duckhorn building practices. It is important for us to be able to have a building partner who is able to have candid conversations and understand the nature of our business.  These interactions allow us to deepen our partnership, develop solutions, and effectively conceive a reliable plan.  We expect builders to provide regular reports on timelines and cost.  Safety is also a critical component. Ultimately, I want us to have fun with the people I work with. 

So why would we work with Nordby?  Cian explained, “One of things I really like about the Nordby team is their flexibility. They are balanced and have a high sense of customer service. At every level, they understand the relationship and do not try push their own agenda. In terms of intuitiveness, we have the right conversations at the right time.” He added, “They have a really strong team of superintendents who have a clear vision from top to bottom on what is important.  That’s really important.  Customer service is consistent at all levels.”

When it comes to working with Nordby, I find them to be trustworthy; they never come close to failing.  I’ve known Craig Nordby for many years.  He is personable and, as whole, the Nordby team is comprised of good people. 

Topics: winery, Duckhorn Wine Company

The Nordby Effect

The Nordby Effect can often be described as being reassured that a project is being performed in a way that exceeds expectations.  Most websites feature finished structures. The real story happens before the project is finished. This blog covers the project story and the people who make these structures a tangible reality.


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