Wine tasting at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg is often thought of as a good time, but walking into Clarksburg Wine Company when Jeremy Maron is behind the bar is something every Sacramentan should experience.
Maron serves as the marketing and social media manager at Clarksburg Wine Company, but he can often be found hosting private wine tastings and is known to hop behind the bar to help showcase the wines available at the tasting room. He is engaging, knows a great deal about the region and is quick to make visitors feel right at home.
He seems like a natural in the world of wine. It’s interesting then to hear him talk about his career, which has included the distribution side of the entertainment industry, entrepreneurship in the world of coworking and various roles at other wineries in the region. With so many starts and stops, it may seem as though his trajectory is one that flits from one industry to the next, without much connecting the dots.
However, Maron isn’t alone in his penchant for career changes. According to a recent survey from Cornerstone, a recruiting, training and management software development company, 55 percent of U.S. employees expect to change careers in their lifetimes. Changing jobs over a lifetime is one thing; completely changing careers is another. And what connects the dots for those like Maron is usually a skill set that is transferable and malleable.
Take Maron’s first big career shift, for example. He had been working for Video Products Distributor in Folsom for over 15 years and, as an avid student of cinema and the movie industry, he watched as physical DVDs began to take a significant backseat to digital mediums.
In 2011, his company underwent the first round of massive layoffs. “It was one of those interesting moments where the axe fell on a Wednesday. We were in a row of cubicles and at the end of the day, I was the only person in my row,” he says, adding that he held onto his position at that point thanks to continuously hitting sales goals and managing his accounts well.
By that time, Maron and his (now) wife, Janna, had opened ThinkHouse Collective, a Midtown Sacramento coworking office, where I got to know them, as a ThinkHouse member, and we soon became friends. He recalls his desire to have more control over his career and to infuse more creativity into his professional life. In early 2012, when another round of layoffs threatened his position at VPD, he made a leap. “I just knew that going forward in that industry, creatively and economically, I was not going to go any higher. So I made the decision to accept the severance and go to ThinkHouse full-time with Janna.”
Maron took over the day-to-day operations of ThinkHouse, which moved locations in 2012 and saw a revolving door of startups and independent professionals take up residence until the husband and wife decided to close the space in early 2015. “We really loved the communities that were being created out of ThinkHouse,” he says. “We were passionate about coworking, but when you own your own business, that almost isn’t enough. We started it as an outlet for our own sort of creative outlet and that didn’t really play out the way I thought it was going to because I never really had my own time, my own creativity.”
Prior to closing ThinkHouse, Maron’s love for wine led him to a Craigslist ad for a weekend job as a tasting room associate at a winery in Amador County. He notes that this particular job was an entry level position and it required humility, on his part, as he accepted the idea of starting over in a new industry. However, that job led to another in wine and, within a few years, he found himself taking on larger roles for other wineries. He says the support of his wife was critical to his success: “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife. We both understood that I wasn’t working for a paycheck, I was working for experience. It paid off.”
His current job with Clarksburg Wine Company is one that allows him to work on the business side of the wine industry, but he still spends time in the tasting room, leads private tastings and tours of the Old Sugar Mill and often tags along with the winery’s distribution partner as a sales representative to help educate restaurants and wine shops about the products they’re stocking. His entrepreneurial drive is still strong and he also sees possibility in creating tasting experiences outside of his day job for those looking to get a more personalized look at local wine.
When pressed about what ties his career shifts together, Maron credits his willingness to remain humble and open to learning opportunities every time he’s had to start over in a new career. He also believes his ability to understand people — how they want to be treated and what it means to relate to others at the most basic of levels — has helped him succeed, especially now in the wine world. “I hate the words ‘customer service,’” he says. “It’s people service. They are not customers; they are potential friends of yours that you are talking with. I see it as not just a job, but as a responsibility to make that person’s day just a little bit better by the time they’ve left my tasting room. So it’s about being honest and present, with the people that you’re serving.”
Follow our writer Jennifer Snyder every month as she speaks with people in the Capital Region who have taken unconventional career paths to get to where they are today.
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