President, The Woodmar Group
BSE IOE ‘93, MBA ‘97
Mike O’Connell is the founder and President of The Woodmar Group, a California based winery. The Woodmar Group was started in 2004 in Napa, California with the focus of using Napa Valley winemaking skills to produce wines that retail in the $10 – $15 price point. The brands include Grayson Cellars, Block Nine, Freelander, Ghostrunner and Hanging Vine and are sold in 50 states and 25 countries. Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate has given Grayson wines Best Buy ratings for eleven consecutive releases. The company is run by Mike and his wife, Kathleen and is one of the larger family-owned wineries in the United States.
Prior to founding The Woodmar Group, Mike ran legendary Indy car driver Mario Andretti’s winery, Andretti Winery, in Napa California where he grew sales 300% in three years. The turn-around plan included renegotiating contracts, reducing the product line, improving product quality, redesigning packaging and building a national sales force.
Mike’s previous jobs include a role in the Bank of America private equity group, a $750 million fund. He was also one of the youngest to be promoted to the role of Manager in the strategy consulting group at Deloitte Consulting in Chicago. During business school, Mike worked for Guardian Industries in Kiev, Ukraine after the separation of Ukraine from the Soviet Union. Following his undergraduate education, he spent two years at Cummins Inc. in Columbus, IN, where he was named a Young Emerging Leader.
Mike is a husband and father of two terrific boys. At the age of 42, he completed a one-week training course with future and former Navy SEALs outside San Diego, CA that was based on the “hell week” portion of BUD/s. He is now a Certified Trainer at this facility. He has also driven an Indy Car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at awesome speeds.
He has served on non-profit boards including Culver Academies Legion Board, Galatic Unite, and was Chairman of Culver Clubs International. He serves as a Board Member of Left Bank Wine Company. He has taught classes at University of California Berkeley, University of California Merced, University of Michigan College of Engineering and Ross School of Business at University of Michigan.