John Vellinga is the co-founder and CXO of Zirkova Vodka, a Canadian-Ukrainian brand of ultra premium spirits hand-crafted in small batches in Zolotonosha, Ukraine - the birthplace of vodka. Since its inception in 2005, John has been a leading force in the industry, nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014. In the 2 years Zirkova Vodka has been listed on the General List at the LCBO, John and his co-founder and wife, Katherine, have traveled Ontario to help introduce their artisanal-water-based Zirkova, tantalizing discerning taste buds and elevating it’s ranking to become the #4 best-selling Ultra Premium Vodka in Ontario - a remarkable achievement for a family-owned distillery.
John’s foray into distilled spirits is not surprising given his passion for ingenuity and enterprise. A Systems Design Engineer, the University of Waterloo Alumni co-founded the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation, an innovative student-run endowment which at nearly $15 million, is one of the largest sources of funding for engineering education in Canada.
With more than 30 years of diverse industry experience in marketing, manufacturing, logistics and retailing, John has become a respected, global leader and speaker. In Canada, he has worked with leading companies such as P&G, Canadian Tire Corp, and GM. In 1997, he moved to Ukraine and was a founder and managing partner of Emergex Business Solutions (EBS), one of Ukraine’s largest private management consulting firms with several multinational and top-tier clients including both Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McCain Foods, IBM, McDonalds, TetraPak, and MicroSoft.