Member in Focus: Kathy Drogemuller

Kathy DrogemullerKathy Drogemuller and her husband Paul, launched Paracombe Wines in 1992. Kathy’s journey has not been all wine and sweet rosé. However she has learnt a lot along the way, from both the highs and lows.

Kathy loves her role, building the business through sales and marketing. At the local level Kathy promotes her business by engaging with people face to face. Building relationships based on trust and integrity have been integral to their business success. Today her role includes working with export markets such as China, which although challenging, it’s also rewarding learning different negotiation and communication skills.

Kathy has always been motivated by sales, and has never been scared to ask for business, so long as you believe in your product and can deliver on any sales promises. She is also community minded and is passionate about building a business that gives back.

Kathy Drogemuller’s Career Journey + Biggest Challenges:

As an only child from the country, Kathy has always been independent. Kathy began her career working in different industries and it was through a chain of events that she landed in the wine industry. During Ash Wednesday a dairy farm in the district was devastated by the fires and put up for sale, and Kathy and Paul decided to buy it.

They initially started growing grapes and selling them but after a few years began making their own wine and after a few years and two children, Paracombe wines was launched.

In the beginning Kathy drove to restaurants and pubs to sell their wine, often with her two young children on board. Still responsible for sales Kathy advises that it is wonderful to distribute your own wines, but hard work.

Kathy Drogemuller’s Biggest Professional Challenge:

For Kathy, the biggest challenge for her is juggling the roles of mother, wife and business owner within a family business. Managing the dynamics of work relationships with family members, balancing boundaries whilst maintaining professionalism takes effort. Additionally, organising succession and staffing are more personal in a family business, so Kathy needs to be additionally mindful when navigating the management of personal conflicts.

Another challenge, specific to her industry, is the huge number of wine makers in Australia, especially SA, which makes it an incredibly competitive market. There is constant pressure within the industry, especially through large retail chains to discount wine prices, which would negatively impact the integrity of the brand. Kathy is constantly required to protect the brand and worth of Paracombe.

Kathy Drogemuller’s Advice for Women in Business:

From early in her career, Kathy faced challenges as a female, in one instance she was asked to resigned from her job because she was pregnant. It was a rude shock but she used her faith to find courage, to not let the difficulties debilitate her. Through the difficult times she found strength and resilience that she didn’t realise she had.

Kathy’s advice to women is to have good female friendships, surround yourself with a network of women who can understand situations from your perspective and give you insight. By sharing problems and allowing yourself to feel vulnerable but in a safe environment, you learn that others also experience challenges – you are not alone.

“In business, the best advice I received was to avoid focusing on the problem, look instead for the solution” says Kathy. Following this advice has helped Kathy to be more open-minded, to look at things from different angles to achieve positive outcomes. Today, Kathy focuses less on the negative and more on how to get the desired results.

Kathy Drogemuller’s Behind Closed Doors (BCD) Experience:

Joining BCD was important to Kathy as it was an investment in her own personal business development, it has given her the opportunity to talk about her business challenges in a confidential environment. It also provides the opportunity for her to help other women, gain insight and wisdom from guest speakers, and enabled her to make some wonderful friends.

Of significance to Kathy, is that through BCD, she met Donny, who helped her recognise and appreciate her skill as a storyteller, which she began using successfully in her business.

“Being involved in the BCD community has given me wings to soar, that I don’t believe I would otherwise have achieved, it has helped me lift to the next journey and go further” says Kathy.

Kathy Drogemuller’s Role Models:

Kathy’s professional role models are:

  • Julie Bishop who she admires greatly because she is professional, intelligent, driven, and articulate.
  • Donny Walford, because she loves how Donny is using BCD to encourage and build up other women. Through using the sisterhood in a positive and powerful way, Donny is genuine in wanting the best for other women.

Kathy regularly recommends BCD to other women because she wants other women to feel empowered and reap the benefits in the same way she has. Not only for themselves but also for others around them “if you empower and assist one woman with her business, the ripple effect is very powerful and positive, across the whole community” says Kathy.

Kathy was a member of the behind closed doors Entrepreneurs memebrship which provides peer mentoring and coacing for female business owners. Kathy continues to be a part of the BCD network through and Affiliate membership as as the official wine sponsor for BCD Connexions networking events in Adelaide.

To find out more about the Entrepreneurs and other membership, visit behind closed doors website.




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