After competing in the UW Business Plan Competition and graduating from the Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program in 2006, Rick McMaster caught the entrepreneurship bug. McMaster made an unconventional shift from a career in technology at Intel to pursuing his passion for the local Washington wine industry. Today McMaster has put his TMMBA skills to work and is the Owner and General Manager of the thriving Vino at the Landing in Renton.
What’s next for McMaster? In January 2015, he purchased a second location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station, and sees even more growth in his future. Much to the delight of McMaster’s patrons, more chardonnay, merlot and syrah possibly await! Read more about McMaster’s story below.
What is most rewarding about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?
I love the community atmosphere that we’ve established at Vino through great food, delicious wine, and wonderful service. We have a lot of regular customers who patron Vino on a daily or weekly basis. It’s great to know our customers on a personal level, learn about their personal lives, and know that Vino is the place that they go to relax and unwind.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Growing Vino from a staff of 3 to 20 has been extremely challenging. When we started there were no policies and procedures in place. We now have an employee manual in place with a more disciplined performance management process. Resourcing has also been challenging. As we’ve grown it has been difficult figuring out when to hire and how many people to hire. There is a lot of turnover in the restaurant industry so it’s also challenging to retain good employees.
What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
We were honored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Customer Service for 2012 and 2014. And we were just recently honored by the Washington State Wine Commission with a Grand Award for our locally focused wine program.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My first boss at Cummins Engine, Mike Carney, was the biggest influence on my career. He was a huge proponent of The 7 Habits and building highly effective teams.
What are you most excited or passionate about?
I am most excited about the personal development of my employees. Most of my staff started at Vino in their early 20s. It’s been wonderful to see them grow into management positions.
Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
I purchased a 2nd location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station in January 2015. I’d love to open a 3rd location in the next 5-10 years. I’ve also been working on a business plan for a cocktail bar and would love to open that concept in downtown Renton as part of the city revitalization efforts.
What were your goals upon entering TMMBA?
I was working at Intel when I entered the program. I had worked primarily in program management and had an engineering background. I knew that I needed the business education if I ever wanted to advance my career at Intel. I thought the TMMBA program would help me to achieve this.
How has TMMBA impacted your career?
There is no doubt that I never would have had this opportunity with Vino at the Landing & Reds Wine Bar without my experience in the TMMBA program. As a small business owner, every part of the TMMBA program curriculum is used on a daily basis.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m an avid golfer. Vino opens at 11am so I’ve been known to get 18-27 holes in prior to opening. My girlfriend is an avid runner and running coach so I see many 5K races in my future too.
Are you involved in any community organizations?
Vino contributes to many local charities including the Renton Clothes Bank and we are heavily involved in the Renton Chamber of Commerce. I just began mentoring with the Renton School District.
Business book recommendation?
I’m going to go old school with this one… Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.