Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2014 (Revised July 2014)

From Beijing Jeep to ASC Fine Wines: The Story of an American Family Business in China

by William C. Kirby and Erica M. Zendell

Abstract

In 1985, Don St. Pierre Sr. became President of Beijing Jeep, the troubled joint venture between American Motor Corporation and the Chinese government to build Jeep Cherokees in China. Just over a decade later in 1996, leveraging contacts from his time in the automotive industry, he founded ASC Fine Wines with his son, Don Jr. Despite many challenges, from building a distribution network from the ground up to Chinese Customs throwing Don Jr. in prison, the St. Pierres prevailed, and ASC was standing tall as China's number-one fine wine importer by volume and value in 2013. ASC had developed a reputation for quality of product and service, beating out the competition of private wine importers and state-owned enterprises. What lessons had this father-son team learned in their 20 years of doing business in China? Would ASC make the transition from being a family-run business to a part of Suntory Holdings and still thrive? Could ASC under its leadership continue to adapt to the changing market for fine wine in China?

Keywords: Entrepreneurship in emerging markets; China; joint ventures; wine industry; auto industry; international entrepreneurship; international business; Exports; Chinese Manufacturing; Business and Government Relations; Ownership Stake; Strategy; Operations; Auto Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; China;

Citation:

Kirby, William C., and Erica M. Zendell. "From Beijing Jeep to ASC Fine Wines: The Story of an American Family Business in China." Harvard Business School Case 314-053, March 2014. (Revised July 2014.)