Jerry and Lynda Burd of Black Mesa Winery with their Small Business Administration award. Courtesy photo
Honoring Black Mesa Winery are from left, owners Jerry Burd and Lynda Burd, winery account Antoinette Martinez, Karen Easton, branch manager of Century Bank Los Alamos, Justin Crossie, Small Business Administration regional administrator, Patrick Metzger, Century Bank universal banker and Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez. Courtesy photo
Prior to COVID-19, Black Mesa Winery located in Velarde had customers visiting the Tasting Room from across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. The biggest share came from New Mexico, with Colorado, Texas and Arizona coming next. They were shipping wine to 20 states. Black Mesa Winery Wine Club consists of 400 members one of the largest in the state, with more than half of the members living outside of New Mexico.
Owners Jerry and Lynda Burd were recently awarded the Small Business Administration Home-Based business of the year award. They had lots to celebrate but the celebration came to a halt as coronavirus quickly took the world by surprise. Change happened and Black Mesa Winery changed as well and is focusing on moving forward. Today Black Mesa Winery is shipping to 40 states, they have innovative virtual events and their on-line sales have increased.
Each year the SBA districts recognize small business owners for their outstanding contribution to their communities through their skills, products, and services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners were recently honored for their achievements and contributions to the national and local economy. Their success is proof that the American Dream is attainable.
New Mexico District Director, John M. Garcia states, “It is important to recognize our small businesses for their perseverance and their ability to overcome adversity. They are the job creators that continue to fuel our economy and they represent over 30 million small businesses in our country as well as the 157,000 in New Mexico. We know that small businesses are the driving force of American economic stability and are essential to our Nation’s economic rebound from the pandemic. That is why now, more than ever, this virtual ceremony was so important to shine the spotlight on those who represent the thousands of business owners and lenders that have adapted, preserved in the face of this crisis.”
COVID-19 began to affect the winery just like it did most businesses. Much of Black Mesa Winery business is focused on the tourism aspects of New Mexico – for New Mexicans traveling around the state and people traveling through.
“COVID-19 has caused us to work longer hours – no days off just to try to make things happen, make ends meet, and be there for staff and for each other,” owner Jerry Burd said. “It’s been very difficult, almost impossible for Black Mesa Winery to open up any new retail outlets and COVID-19 has hurt Black Mesa Winery wholesale business. Instead of focusing on what we couldn’t do we focused on what we could do.”
Burd said SBDC director Julianna Barbee reached out to the winery to help and guided them in obtaining Paycheck Protection Program dollars for their employees and SBA dollars to continue operating on a daily basis.
“Her time on the phone and on line with us gave us the assurance that we were in this with SBDC and other small businesses. Julianna would get back to us with reports and guidance, sometimes these were daily calls and on the weekends and into the evening hours,” Burd said.
Black Mesa Winery continues to support Governor Lujan- Grisham’s safety requirements and is more concerned about their employees and customer’s health safety.
“Julianna helped us to start to think differently to reimagine and reinvent the winery, while incorporating the safety requirements. “ says Burd. “We began to try to imagine and reimagine how to make this new definition of reality work for a small winery and doing it safely.”
Jerry and Lynda began using many online tools to stay in touch with their existing friends and Wine Club members. They use Zoom for a biweekly wine tasting featuring their winemaker, two wines and a cider and offer a special rate for purchasing and shipping. Black Mesa Winery cyber sipping special is for people to send wine and wine glasses to a friend to which they can then set up their own Zoom conversations.
“We call it Syber Sipping,” says Burd. “We e also have a weekly Farmers’ Market to bring our neighbors to us and help them get their products out to people traveling or living in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Black Mesa Winery also offers tastings outside at covered tables while maintaining COVID-19 safety requirements. They also are featuring their hard apple cider made from local apples from the surrounding areas.
“I think businesses need to look for ‘new doors’,” says Burd “The same old ways will never be the same. New ways to reach people, to go through doors where we never even expected a door to be is a challenge, educational, and can be fun. Some of our past ‘usual ways’ will never be repeated.”
He said though there are fewer people traveling, now they have more time and are able to stop in and talk and tell their stories. These are local people as well as people from across the state and even across the country.
“Though total visits are down, we have 30-35% first timers stopping by and taking the chance and buying wines and ciders and between the PPP assistance and the rate people are placing an order by phone and on-line, the bills are getting paid,” Burd says. “Our on line sales are up. We have just added 20 more states to our list of states we ship to, bringing the total to 40 states. “
SBDC has been a valuable asset because of Barbee, Burd noted.
“I wouldn’t want to be going through this ‘alone’ with the Internet as my only resource. Sometime I don’t even know the right questions to ask. No one person knows all the answers or even all the questions, but by getting together either virtually of just through emails makes a big, big difference,” he said.
Justin Crossie U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator met with Black Mesa Winery to find out how the PPP helped. He talked with Lynda and Jerry about their experience during the economic downturn following the COVID-19 pandemic. The PPP provided salaries for their staff and Black Mesa Winery still has all their employees working. Crossie also wanted to know how the SBA could do better and what businesses need from the SBA to continue moving forward in the new business climate.
Española Mayor Javier Sanchez welcomed Crossie and showed his support for SBDC client Black Mesa Winery. Mayor Sanchez is also a client of the Española SBDC and owner of La Cocina Restaurant and also received the PPP. Century Bank in Los Alamos provided Black Mesa Winery with the PPP loan and was also invited by SBA to share their experience with the PPP during COVID-19.
“On behalf of the Century Bank team, we offer our congratulations to Jerry and Lynda Burd and Black Mesa Winery for the SBA 2020 Home-based Business Award,” says Gary Lutz, EVP/Regional President of Century Bank. “We wish them continued success. Century Bank was pleased to have partnered with the SBA in providing much needed financial relief through the Paycheck Protection Program. We provided businesses in New Mexico over 550 loans totaling over $103 million and are extremely happy to have been a part of this program.”
About the New Mexico Small Business Development Center
The NMSBDC provides no-cost business consulting and low-cost business training to entrepreneurs throughout the state. Located in communities throughout New Mexico, entrepreneurs have access to subject matter experts in everything from accounting to social media and franchising to e-commerce. The SBDC’s personalized business expert’s entrepreneurial spirit encourages business owners to see new opportunities, embrace change, be innovative, and move our economy forward.
The SBDC gives back to New Mexico and has a tremendous economic impact in our state. SBDC’s help Small Business, grow, create jobs and retain jobs.
The New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network (NMSBDC) was established in 1989 through a partnership with the US Small Business Administration, the State of New Mexico, the New Mexico Association of Community Colleges, and the New Mexico Association of Independent Community Colleges. The NMSDC Network lead center is located on the campus of the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe. NMSBDC is an accredited member of the national Americas SBDC National Association of Small Business Development Centers with 18 SBDC centers statewide, an International Business Accelerator Program, and a Procurement Technical Assistance Program.
For more information visit www.nmsbdc.org.