Helping homeowners and wine connoisseurs create beautiful and tasteful wine cellars is Bob Guillen's passion. As a designer and outside representative for Wine Cellar Innovations in Cincinnati, Ohio, Guillen knows construction and has an outstanding eye for style.
“I was a remodeling contractor, both commercial and residential, for over 34 years,” Guillen explained in a recent interview, “and I also have an education in interior design and am an allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). When I had my own business, I designed kitchens and basements and bathrooms and decking, etc., and I did the work myself....One of my first jobs was designing bars and restaurants.”
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When Guillen decided that he needed to slow down, he sold his business and started looking for something new to do in his retirement years. He researched a lot of different companies and looked for something related to construction. “I was a finish carpenter, and I built furniture,” he said. So, he was open to new ideas. “It didn't take long for people to call me with my background,” he admitted. Wine Cellar Innovations called him and hired him the day of his interview.
Now, as an employee, Guillen doesn't regret stepping down from ownership of a company and the control and prestige it had. “This is an amazing company,” he boasts. “I had researched them prior to the interview. I looked at their quality.” It was an easy choice.
Today, Guillen manages a sales/consulting territory in West Virginia, half of Pennsylvania, and northern New York. His work often takes him to new construction sites as well as remodels in people's homes. He looks at each of them as if he were storing his own wine. “My family has made wine for a hundred years,” he said. “My brother and I still make wine.” So, he knows not only construction and design, but the needs of wine storage.
When Guillen meets with a new wine cellar client, it is usually a blank slate. “It's a little complicated when you're in a new construction,” he admitted. “You can't see the homeowner's personality, how her home is decorated, so I ask a lot of questions. I'll ask for favorite colors, if she likes bold colors, if she likes muted colors, if she's a traditionalist, if she's into contemporary.” All of that is in the preliminary discussion so that Guillen can get a sense of the homeowner's style.
Combining physical storage needs and other amenities, Guillen can draft a a 2-D black and white or a 3-D color computer image for the homeowner to show what can be done with the space in the specific style and colors the homeowner likes. He brings these images into another conference with the homeowner where the design is further refined. “After I have refined her ideas, I add my ideas,” he explained.
Once the storage basics are done, he offers creative details. “Then, we can get into the aesthetics of it. Does she want art work? Does she want decorative moldings? Does she want art on the floors or doors? Does she want tables? I'll suggest back wall colors, even though we do not do that. I'll do a lighting layout for her. I'll suggest different lighting fixtures. We do carry LED lighting inside the racking and other lighting....I'll guide them through that whole process.”
Then, if needed a 3-D color CAD (computer assisted design) drawing is done and the budget is compared with the design. Other adjustments are made and the build begins. Everything begins and ends with the client. “A good designer is very knowledgeable and will listen to what their client wants,” Guillen stressed. “That's the whole key of designing, not so much what your ideas are, but incorporating their ideas with your ideas.”
And Guillen is very sensitive to budget issues. “Even if someone says, 'Bob, I have a $5,000 budget,' I'll do my best to make that room look as nice as possible within that budget. Or if it's unlimited, then the sky's the limit.”
Guillen has a passion for what he does, and it connects with wine connoisseurs who have a passion for wine. “I love my work. I love dealing with people who love something. Passionate people may be passionate about their own tastes, but you have to run with that passion...Wine racks are romantic anyway, but if we can enhance that in any way, it makes it even better.”