Dover company goes big into high-end wine storage

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Sunday News Correspondent
November 26. 2017 1:00AM
The finished and installed bank of custom refrigerated wine cabinets can be viewed in both the SALT restaurant and wine bar at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle. (Courtesy)

DOVER - A niche business in Dover is building wine and cigar storage products for hotels, country clubs, restaurants and high-end homes.

Charles Griffiths, president of Vigilant on Industrial Park Drive, said the company's handcrafted refrigerated wine display cabinets can be found primarily in country clubs in Georgia and Texas, where more people frequent these types of establishments than in New Hampshire. Members can keep their wines at the club, which encourages them to come in on a more frequent basis, Griffiths said.

Among the company's New Hampshire customers is the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle. The hotel's SALT restaurant and wine bar features a 20-foot custom bank of refrigerated and nonrefrigerated wine cabinets that can hold 1,264 bottles, according to a customer photo gallery at vigilantinc.com.

Last month, Vigilant completed the installation of custom wine display cabinets at the Torali Italian-Steak restaurant on the 12th floor of The Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. They feature dual glass side panels and were designed to be the focal point of the restaurant.
Charles Griffiths, president of Vigilant, talks about the growth of his Dover company at its facility on Industrial Park Drive on Nov. 17. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/SUNDAY NEWS CORRESPONDENT)

Griffiths and his team have found that establishments that prominently display their wine collections dramatically increase their on-premises sales. Alcohol sales are what allows restaurants to profit, Griffiths said.

"Wine continues to be a bigger and bigger part of fine dining," Griffiths said. "We solve problems for clients who want wine storage. We try to make stuff that looks really cool and is easily organized."

On the residential side, Griffiths said the company's products are attractive to upper-income baby boomers and members of Generation X with disposable income. About half of the company's clients are homeowners.

"It's a luxury item, for sure, on the residential side," Griffiths said. "But I tell people, 'If you're going to spend $20,000 on a residential wine cabinet, you have a lot more than $20,000 of wine in there.'"

This custom-painted wine storage refrigeration system is being handcrafted at Vigilant in Dover. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/SUNDAY NEWS CORRESPONDENT)

Mahogany is the wood used in 80 percent of Vigilant's products. Employees cut and construct the cabinets in its 40,000-square-foot facility.

There are 16 employees in the office, and 25 on the manufacturing floor.

Chris Colby has been working at the company for 17 years. 

"They have a nice wood warehouse so I can pick out whatever I want. I get to do all the high-end stuff," Colby said. 

Garreth Bowie has been with Vigilant 18 years. 

"I love woodworking. It is my passion and it always has been," Bowie said. "It gives you a sense of satisfaction to see a job well done."

Griffiths said the company was founded as a cigar cabinet provider in 1995, and at one time had corporate offices in Candia. Manufacturing was done in York, Maine. 

Vigilant expanded into wine storage in the early 2000s, and Dover was a good fit for the company as the business grew. The company moved into its current location in 2005 and 2006, Griffiths said.


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