By the BF Staff
From the September / October 2023 Issue
Based in Rochester, NY, Constellation Brands is a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits with operations in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, and Italy. Among its products are high-end, iconic imported beer brands such as those in the Corona brand family like the flagship Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Modelo Cheladas, Pacifico, and Victoria; fine wine and craft spirits brands, including The Prisoner Wine Company, Robert Mondavi Winery, Casa Noble Tequila, and High West Whiskey; and premium wine brands such as Kim Crawford and Meiomi.
The company’s origins go back to 1945 when Marvin Sands purchased Canandaigua Industries in upstate New York. Located in Canandaigua, NY, the company sold bulk wine in barrels to bottlers in the East. The company later changed its name to Canandaigua Wine Company, Inc. and was traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1997, the company was renamed Canandaigua Brands, Inc., parent company of Canandaigua Wine Company and Barton Incorporated, following a decade of acquisitions resulting in a diversified product portfolio. At this time, company net sales reached $1.1 billion. In 2000, the company changed its name to Constellation Brands, Inc. to reflect its broad range of brands across wine, spirits, and beer.
Today, Constellation Brands operates facilities around the world, including breweries in Mexico and wineries in California and internationally. The headquarters continues to operate in upstate New York, now in the city of Rochester.
Here, Constellation Brands CFO Garth Hankinson shares why this global beverage company chose to remain in Rochester for its new HQ, moving to downtown.
Business Facilities: What is the history of Constellation Brands in the Rochester, NY region?
Hankinson: We operate out of two offices in upstate New York—Rochester and Canandaigua. The Canandaigua location is the legacy office, and we’ve been in Rochester for 15 years. We are currently planning our move from suburban Rochester to the downtown in the newly developed Aqueduct campus. When the lease at our current Rochester location was up, we considered what would be next. We’ve outgrown the suburban office building we’ve been operating in for more than a decade.
When we moved in, the developer built it for Constellation Brands’ purposes but things have changed. The office layout no longer supports our current way of working. Meanwhile, there was a desire to consolidate our two locations to bring employees together. We considered retrofitting the Rochester office to fit current needs. But ultimately, we expanded the options and considered moving to a different site altogether.
Constellation Brands is relocating its global headquarters, but the company is not going far. With the desire to remain in Rochester, NY, the company will be moving to the heart of the city’s downtown in newly renovated spaces.
We own the Canandaigua offices, but it was not large enough for our current workforce [of about 400].
BF: Constellation Brands will soon be moving into its new headquarters in downtown Rochester. What were the factors influencing your team’s decision to stay based in Rochester itself?
Hankinson: Rochester overall is a wealth of talent, and the educational institutions are top-notch. We are able to find the talent we need in Rochester. Our current employees are able to commute to the city, in our current and new location. Also, it is a great quality of life here in Rochester.
BF: Once the company decided to stay in Rochester, what led to the decision to move to the downtown?
Hankinson: In deciding to move downtown, we considered what location would optimize commuting time and related issues for employees. With employees working in two locations, previously we wanted to bring everyone together and needed to choose the best location. Rochester was the best choice, and the downtown location will bring everyone together when they do come into in the office. In all, we’ll have about 400 employees who can come into the new office, which will be about 170,000 square feet. The space is currently under renovation, and we are looking to move into the new headquarters in 2024.
And this move provides our employees the chance to be part of the downtown. There are a number of employees who have lived in the downtown Rochester area, and we really appreciate sort of the amenities that you get from being in an urban environment versus suburban.
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Our new location is across the street from the Blue Cross Arena where the local hockey team plays. We won’t be far from the baseball stadium. Also, a YMCA is being built close to our new location.
We also thought about what it means to be in a suburban location versus the downtown location. It provides the company more exposure to potential employees and our ability to draw talent.
BF: As part of the Rochester community for so many years, what does Constellation Brands value most about having its base of operations in this city?
Hankinson: It is the talent base, the business-friendly community, and the strategic location that have all served Constellation Brands well. This goes back to the first days of the company.