From Fighter Pilot to Franchisee – Pinot’s Palette Liberty Station

From Fighter Pilot to Franchisee – Pinot’s Palette Liberty Station

Military Family Settles in San Diego; Opens 50th Pinot’s Palette Location

Julie and Dan Truckenbrod talked about owning their own business for years – but until recently, they weren’t ready to commit to a business venture. Dan’s career as an F-18 pilot for the Navy meant that they moved around quite a bit – but when the couple got to San Diego, they realized that the time was right to start a new chapter in their lives. They loved living in the city, and they decided early on that they’d remain there when Dan’s military service came to an end.

“I think the second day we were in San Diego, Julie told me, ‘We will be staying here. We’re not going to leave,’” says Dan.

Julie, an Oklahoma native, loves everything about the Southern California city. “It’s beautiful, and it doesn’t seem like a big city – and the weather is unbelievable,” she says. “Anyone who comes here will understand why we are staying.”

Once the couple decided to remain in San Diego, the next step was to choose a business venture. Dan – who is retiring from the Navy next year, says that after a long military career the idea of being a business owner was especially appealing. And for both Dan and Julie, the idea of opening a franchise felt like the best of two worlds: They could work for themselves and be their own bosses – but they could still benefit from the support and structure that comes with an established national company.

And when Julie discovered Pinot’s Palette, the Truckenbrods knew they’d found just the right franchise.

Discovering the Pinot’s Palette System

About a year and a half ago, Julie visited a “mom-and-pop”-type paint and sip studio with her sister. She loved the concept of painting lessons accompanied with wine, and when she described the experience to Dan he thought it sounded like a great time. But although they were both intrigued by the paint and sip concept, the Truckenbrods didn’t consider the idea as a possible business venture — until they learned about Pinot’s Palette.

“One of my friends who still lives in Oklahoma introduced me to the company,” Julie says. “She’s probably been there fifteen times; she just loves it. She told me all about the classes, and that’s how I found out about Pinot’s Palette.”

After checking out the Pinot’s Palette website (as well as the company’s rankings in several business- and entrepreneur-focused magazines), Julie and Dan requested some additional information about opportunities in the franchise’s rapidly growing California market. San Diego was available. Julie booked a trip to the company’s Houston to attend “Discovery Day,” an information session for prospective franchisees. She returned to San Diego convinced that Pinot’s Palette was a good fit.

“After Discovery Day, I felt comfortable with the business – especially with the tools available to franchisees,” Julie says.

The couple did a little more research and they even looked at a few competing paint and sip franchises – but Julie says that they never seriously considered any of the others. “None of them really felt as upscale as Pinot’s Palette,” she says. “And Pinot’s had so much information and support for franchisees. We just felt much more comfortable with them.”

They went back for a second Discovery Day. Julie wanted Dan to see the company in person before they made the commitment. Soon after that, Dan and Julie signed the paperwork to open their own franchise.

A Major Milestone

The Truckenbrods celebrated the grand opening of their Pinot’s Palette studio on August 15, 2014. In addition to being the first-ever Pinot’s Palette in San Diego, their studio was also the 50th studio to open nationwide – a major milestone for the company.

The Truckenbrod’s studio is located in a historic building that once served as a Naval training station. The space boasts industrial details like exposed-wood beams and oversized metal brackets, and the Truckenbrods’ general contractor helped them come up with design details that would continue the theme throughout the studios’ interior. Most of their fixtures are made from reclaimed wood, and they found creative ways to use things like old railroad spikes and other “industrial” style materials to create a truly one-of-a-kind space.

The best part of the process, though, was the fact that Pinot’s Palette was there to support Dan and Julie every step of the way, from finding the ideal location to navigating local liquor laws to designing and building their studio. They appreciate the fact that there’s always someone available to answer questions or discuss ideas, and they’ve enjoyed connecting with other franchisees across the country via social media.

Since they opened their studio, business has been good and the Truckenbrods are enjoying their new careers as business owners. For Julie, the most rewarding part of being a Pinot’s Palette franchisee is that it allows her to support charity organizations. She especially enjoys organizing events that support military and veterans’ groups.

Dan says one of his favorite things about Pinot’s Palette is seeing “skeptical” customers – particularly men — fall in love with the paint and sip concept.

“We get a lot of compliments from men who feel ‘dragged’ to the class – but by the end of the night, they are the ones who are coming up and telling us how wonderful it was, and now it exceeded their expectations,” says Dan, who has even created a special discount just for skeptical potential customers. “I love to find ‘nonbelievers’ and give them a coupon just to get them into the door so they see how much fun Pinot’s Palette really is,” he says.


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