Jenn Kampmeier-Aaron has long been an entrepreneur. At the age of 7, she had a gumball route. After two years, she sold it and put her earnings toward college. So, it’s no surprise she went on to found 12 more companies, including Vino Mobile Bar.
“My parents are entrepreneurs,” the Carmel resident said. “So, working until your fingers fall off is in the blood.”
But last fall, Kampmeier-Aaron made a life-changing decision to sell Vino Mobile Bar, which sells a variety of libations to events, to spend more time with her husband, Mitchell, and son, Zane.
“I have two years left with him, and then he is off to college. We are an active family – travel baseball and all the things that keep you busy. I wanted to lock down the time I had with him,” she said.
After the decision to sell was made, she sat down on her back porch and created a live video to announce it.
“I poured my heart into it. I said here is why I am selling it – nothing negative, it’s an amazing business,” Kampmeier-Aaron said. “It would take a special person to come in and run it. I just put it out there.”
Melissa Neidlinger saw the video.
“I loved hearing Jenn’s story of her journey and how she wanted to sell Vino, because I was on my own journey,” Neidlinger said. “I had just moved back to Indiana. I grew up in southern Indiana and had been gone for 25ish years. My more recent adventure was living in the Caribbean for 12 of those years.”
The Carmel resident was looking for her next adventure.
“It really was kismet. I was reevaluating my current situation and I saw she was going to go live and wondered if she was going to put Vino on the market and sure enough she was,” Neidlinger said. “I sat on it a few days, so then I thought I would dip my toe in the water and see how it feels, and the rest is history.”
The two had actually met previously.
“I had come back to Indiana and was at this luncheon and I was in awe of this mobile wine bar and she was in awe of my life in the islands. And we talked and got to know each other and served wine at a few events (together),” Neidlinger said. “It’s not enough for me to sit at a desk all day, I have to do something unique. So when this came up I was in a place where I was looking for the next opportunity.”
Kampmeier-Aaron said Neidlinger is the perfect person to take over Vino and its two mobile wine trucks – Vinny and Vito.
“I had some really interesting inquiries but ultimately I needed someone in the customer service business who knew how to work hard. While it’s glamorous to drive a wine truck, there is also the back end. Driving it, prepping it, there is no AC,” she said. “(Neidlinger) came on and worked some of the hottest days. The one thing I appreciated about Mel is she asked hard questions. She got right in and dove deep into my brain, so right from the start I knew her mind was already thinking how this is going to work.”
While the sale actually occurred last fall, Kampmeier-Aaron remained with the business until the spring, guiding Neidlinger and helping her run Vino.
“I still had events booked, and it did not feel right to say, ‘Oh, hey, the business is sold,’” Kampmeier-Aaron said.
“I am grateful for that.I have big shoes to fill. She (Kampmeier-Aaron) created this out of nothing, literally. She found a bus, gutted it and created this and learned it all as she went along,” Neidlinger said. “This has been a way she has been able to bring me into it without a lot of stumbling along the way, because she created a system that makes it a lot more smooth. It’s been invaluable.”
As for Kampmeier-Aaron, her next step is to go into “chill mode.”
“I don’t have my next business in mind, and I am okay with that,” she said. “I am just going to take time out and breathe for a minute.”
For more about Vino Mobile Bar, visit vinomobilebar.com.