Frank Shobe joined Golden Ram Imports in July 2015 as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining GRI, Mr. Shobe began his career in the wine industry as financial controller with Winebow, Inc, in 1983. He held a variety of positions in the industry, ranging from Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Operating Officer while overseeing and participating in the growth and development of Winebow to what was then a $250M wine company.
Today with nearly 35 years of experience in marketing, sales, finance, operations, IT, and HR, he provides a guiding hand to Golden Ram Imports and Wine4Food.com.
Mr. Shobe earned his bachelor of science degree in accounting from the University of Missouri in 1981 and CPA in 1987. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia College in 2017.
How has 2020 and the pandemic affected Golden Ram Imports and Wine4Food.com, the overall business, and how have you adapted to the ‘New Normal?’ How have you brought your years of knowledge into your business to allow growth?
Well, we’ve lost almost all of our restaurant business, which was about 50% of our pre-plague business. We’veadapted by altering pricing and refocusing on wineshop business. Unfortunately, we’ve also had to reorganize our staffing levels as losing 50% of our revenue was simply not sustainable. Since April, we’ve only had one month where we exceeded last year’s sales so overall we are down 28%! Given that our business was split even between wine shops and restaurants in 2019, being down 28% actually means that we have managed to refocus and gain business in wineshops. If we can keep these gains when the restaurant trade comes back it will be a big plus for us.
Take us through your journey including memorable highlights across the years in the wine industry? Any favorite memory?
I got into the wine business quite by accident when I answered an ad for a bookkeeper/controller in the NYTimes. I spent 30 years working for one of the top people in the trade, Leonardo Lo Cascio. He allowed me to learn and develop in virtually every sector of the industry. I’ve been COO, CMO, CFO and sales manager on both the national and local levels. I’m proud of the work we did together and will always treasure his friendship. Highlights are many and I have done so many things and enjoyed my years working at this craft that it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite memory/highlight so I’ll give you a few: 1) was working in a warehouse and managing logistics with the operations guys and developing some of the systems for the warehouse back in the early days of my career. These guys are the backbone of every company in our business so I have great respect for them. 2) Being able to travel and meet so many people from so many countries and backgrounds has been a major part of my journey in the industry. There are many, many contacts that I’ve made over the years around the world, from Italy to France to New Zealand and other wine regions that have allowed me to build Golden Ram , as these relationships are built on trust and familiarity. 3) Being asked to run Golden Ram and developing W4F with Carole Mac and our team over the last 5 years definitely ranks high. This has been the most affirming challenge I’ve had over my 37 years in the industry.4) The last item isn’t so much a memory as it is good fortune. And that is meeting the woman who became my wife, Jill Herman, when we first met and worked together some 25 years ago. She has put up with all the craziness that is the wine industry, raised our boys and been there for me through all the ups and downs.
How important is giving back in terms of knowledge and information in your eyes? How do you think Wine4Food mirrors this in terms of sharing information with an audience?
I come from a background that emphasized teaching as my Mom was a schoolteacher. In my family education is the key to success. W4F mirrors this in that one of our goals is to a go to source for wine info without regard for self-promotion. The more folks know about wine the better it is for our sister company, Golden Ram Imports.
On a personal note how have you stayed active; mentally and physically during these uneasy times?
Running a business keeps you sharp to begin with but these circumstances have pushed me to new levels mentally as the hours spent planning and rearranging plans has at times been daunting. As for physically, I’d like to say I workout every day but I’d be fibbing! I haven’t gained or lost weight which is the norm for me so I’d say physically I’m doing OK although I do miss trotting around Manhattan on a regular basis seeing clients.
Your cover shoot encapsulates your love of life, wine, and even cigars. How was it working with the team and stepping outside your comfort zone for your first cover?
Well, it was pretty stressful to tell the truth. I’ve never been one to seek publicity and am fairly a private person, so having my picture taken is a rare thing and not something I’m a fan of. The team was great to work with and you guys got me to go WAY outside my comfort zone…congrats!
Ok we have to ask: what’s your fave wind down wine and food pairing?
Champagne! Champagne!! Champagne!!! with anything 😂😉.
Where do you see Wine4Food.com and the brand moving in 2021? The team has released amazing digital content all year and broken new ground, so what do you want to see as we close out 2020?
As we approach 2021, we are looking into ways to further leverage and develop the W4F brand. One specific area we are looking at is the launching of a W4F wine club.
How are you spending the holiday season?
I will be home with my wife, Jill and our 2 boys, Frankie and Mason. Unfortunately, my Mom is in her 80’s so we’re not risking having her, my sister and my brother over for dinner. Just another casualty of the plague.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
The pandemic has taken a big toll on all of us, mentally, spiritually and essentially wiped out a sector of the wine industry that is essential to the industry’s long-term health.Recently I was in a few restaurant accounts and the folks that own them are just hanging on by a thread. I am hopeful and optimistic that once the vaccine starts to kick-in that those who have toughed out these last 9 months can make the comeback. Without a vibrant and thriving restaurant community no city is the same and especially a special place like New York City. Support your local guys and keep the faith…this too will pass!
Photo credit: Andrew Werner Photography www.andrewwernerphotography.com