Julian’s Winery & Distillery Tasting Room is located at 518 W. 14 Mile Road, Building 4205.

Julian’s Winery & Distillery Tasting Room is located at 518 W. 14 Mile Road, Building 4205.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Pair of Troy businesses pass the century mark

Owners say ingenuity, community support key to 100-plus years in business

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published June 10, 2021

 G. A. Fuchs Church Supply is located at 302 John R Road.

G. A. Fuchs Church Supply is located at 302 John R Road.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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TROY — After a year that saw the temporary, and sometimes permanent, closures of businesses across the globe, two local business owners aren’t just glad to have survived another year, but to have made it 100 or more years in business.

St. Julian Winery President John Braganini is celebrating the business’s 100th anniversary this year. The business, which was founded in Ontario, Canada in 1921 by his grandfather, who ran the company until the 1960s, opened a tasting room location in Troy on Memorial Day weekend 2018.

“It doesn’t happen very often that a company makes it 100 years, but to have it (stay) in the same family is remarkable,” Braganini said as he remembered running around the wine cellars as a young child. “The first 95 years of this company, someone ... in my family ran it. I’m honored to be able to pilot it to the finish.”

G. A. Fuchs Church Supply co-owner Matt Klopp is celebrating the business’s 102nd anniversary this year. The company, which originated in Detroit, has since moved to Troy’s Oakland Plaza from Madison Heights. The new Troy retail location is the business’s fourth location in its 102 years.

Klopp’s family is the third family to own the business. They have owned the company for the past 30 years.

“It’s pretty amazing that we made it this far,” Klopp said. “It’s nice to have the support in the Detroit area for all these years and to be able to provide services for the local churches and the parishioners as well.”

As the pandemic landed in Michigan last March, it forced businesses across the state to quickly pivot or get left behind. For Braganini, things were no different.

“We were faced with the same issues that everybody else was. We were in uncharted territory. We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Our tasting rooms were shut down completely. We were able to transition in a two-week time, we were making hand sanitizer and we were able to supply distilleries with high-proof ethanol, so we took advantage of that opportunity,”

“Overall, our business wasn’t impacted, but we had to act quickly to be able to manage the risk,” he added.

Business didn’t halt for Klopp at Fuchs Church Supply either, even after moving to Troy in July 2020, during the pandemic. However, it did snuff out any chance of having a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the new space and their more than 100 years in business.

“We didn’t have one last year because of COVID, and now that the restrictions are starting to loosen, we are definitely in the near future going to have a grand opening,” he said. “I definitely want to have one in the next six months — I’ve just been watching how everything is going. Right now, it’s looking like most restrictions will be up on July 1.”

Doing business for more than a century will cause almost every business to adapt and chance at some point, even prior to the pandemic. The most important for St. Julian’s Winery, Braganini believes, has been the ingenuity his brother cultivated before him. The support of the community over a century has also helped the business.

“He was really the guy who took the Michigan wine industry into the future. He was one of the ones who planted all the grapes and continued to find new products that people were interested in,” he said. “We’ve been able to support the farm community in cultivating better fruit, better wine grapes, European varieties or things like that. We’ve been able to upgrade the supply chain.”

Klopp credits community support and the transition to creating an online presence. “Being in the metro Detroit area, the people here are very loyal, and I think that for us, we have had great customers over the years. A lot of people shop local here,” he said. “We had to, of course, adapt and change too. We had to get a website throughout the years.”

If the two companies want to continue to stick around for another 100 years, it’s likely they’ll have to continue to adapt and change to supply demands and customer desires, especially after the pandemic, Braganini thinks.

“In my opinion, COVID has forever changed the way people are going to purchase a lot of products,” he said, acknowledging that as business owners see foot traffic decrease, they’ll have to shift to meet online shoppers where they are to stay relevant for another century.

For more information, visit stjulian.com or fuchschurchsupply.com.

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