Howard W. Hewitt, Omena, MI. – Tony Lentcyh ’89 is always stretching his liberal arts education. “I always tell people ‘when you get asked if you can do particular job, always tell them sure,’ ” he laughed. “That’s the liberal arts.”
Managing a Winery Just Another Liberal Art for Lentych ’89
Tony has a charm and easy-going demeanor which probably would convince most people even when he’s bluffing – if you can tell.
Lentych spent six years in Wabash admissions before working in Indianapolis and then Lansing, MI., in the public sector. His career was focused around public housing. But just a few years ago he was ready for a new direction.
“I was ready for a break and I was tired of politics,” he said. So when a friend was looking for a general manager to run the family Leelanau Cellars winery Tony said “sure.”
He hasn’t regretted it for a moment. He runs the business operation of Michigan’s largest wine producer and has seen business more than double since he joined the company.
Tony is a great illustration of how a liberal arts education can take any young man wherever they want to go and perhaps a few places they never imagined. You’ll see more on Tony’s career path from Classics major to manager of Michigan’s biggest producing winery soon on the Wabash website.
During a drive and walk-around tour Wednesday afternoon at Leelanau Cellars Tony mixed Wabash stories into a vineyard visit, quick tour of a production facility, and then a little time to taste some wine.
Known on campus as a gregarious and fun-loving guy during his four years in school and six more in admissions, he’s the kind of man who has never met a stranger. During the tour he visited vineyard workers, his winemaker, who holds the distinction of being the first female head winemaker in Michigan, and had fun with tasting room employees.
He’s improved business practices and hired local people with strong connections to the Leelanau area into the winery.
Like many of these visits the last 30-45 minutes was consumed with talk about Wabash. He’s convinced the diversity of his Wabash education is one of his biggest assets in dealing with the variety of people and challenges he faces each day.
Managing a winery, Tony said, is really managing a farm but instead of a fruit stand “we have a tasting room.”
He goes about his management style with a smile. Perhaps it’s because when he looks out the winery each day he sees Grand Traverse Bay, sailboats and people enjoying the area’s incredible beauty.
‘Sure,’ who wouldn’t want a job like that?