Wayne E. Chaplin, President and COO of Southern Wine and Spirits of America, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1956. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Wayne Chaplin received a law degree from the same institution. Following a period practicing law at a Miami-based firm, he joined Southern Wine and Spirits of America in 1984.
Mr. Chaplin quickly learned the importance of customer service in all aspects of his work as he prepared himself for a future leadership role. In his first three years at Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Wayne Chaplin worked as a sales supervisor, company comptroller, and operations manager. Mr. Chaplin says, “I think Southern Wine and Spirits of America's goals have to be tied into suppliers' goals; we need to be on the same page. The same goes for our on- and off-premise chain and independent customers.”
In 1987 Wayne Chaplin was appointed Vice President in charge of operations, and in 1989 he was named First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all divisions of the company's distribution operations.
In 1992, Mr. Chaplin was appointed to the Company’s Executive Management Committee and became an officer and director at that time. In 1994, Chaplin was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc.
On the three key lessons he has learned from his father, Harvey R. Chaplin, Wayne Chaplin says, “First and foremost, the most important thing in business is the people who run the company. People make the difference in making an organization what it is and what it can be. Second, in business your word is more valuable than anything else you have, and the expression of your word is your bond that is true. Finally, never forget your roots. You should never forget where you began, so that you treat people and their problems as if they are your own.”
Mr. Chaplin adds, “My approach to business has been formulated by working with some extremely talented people who founded Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc. Each of them has mentored me in their own special expertise-individuals like my father, Jay Weiss, Mel Dick, and Herbert Joseph. These executives have helped me to develop the business acumen I have today.”
Looking to the future, Wayne Chaplin says, “The challenge is that the ground rules are going to change in the way business is going to be conducted. We want to be on the forefront of those changes.” Equally important to Mr. Chaplin is the importance of maintaining the company's tradition of promoting from within. Indeed, most of the company's senior executives and state general managers have been with Southern from fifteen to twenty years or more, and they have all worked their way up through the organization.
As far as his day-to-day responsibilities are concerned, Wayne Chaplin says, “What I enjoy doing most is working with suppliers to see that their marketing and sales objectives are executed successfully." He adds, "If we can accomplish these goals, then I believe we can continue in the expansion mode that we have pursued during the last fifteen years. Because of our growth, we continue to take advantage of the economies of scale in every area of our operations.”
And unlike some other competitors who have decided to diversify into other business arenas, Wayne Chaplin states emphatically that “this business has been the only one we have ever pursued, it is the one we know, the one we plan to focus on exclusively going forward. I do not see Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., diversifying into other business arenas.”
Beyond his day-to-day corporate management responsibilities, Wayne Chaplin is very active, along with his father, Harvey R. Chaplin, in overseeing the wide range of national, state and local charitable causes the Company supports and underwrites, from education and humanitarian relief activities to numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives. “Since our founding in 1968, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc. has taken a progressive, active and constructive role in community, state and national affairs. These are fundamental values of the Company. At Southern, we want to 'give back,' and we strive every day to be responsible members of the communities in which we live,” said Wayne Chaplin.
In addition to Wayne Chaplin’s above-noted corporate-related philanthropic activities, he volunteers in various leadership activities at the University of Miami, which is his alma mater for both his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts Degree and Graduate Law Degree. Currently, he serves on the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee as well as serving as the current Chairman of the Master Planning and Construction Committee for the University. He has also served as the past Vice Chairman and Member of the Executive Committee at the Mount Sinai Hospital of Miami Beach and has recently been appointed to Chairman of the Board. Mr. Chaplin also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Miami Country Day School.
Summing up his overall business philosophy, Wayne Chaplin says, “Our challenge as the market leader is find ways to do things better and more economically. This will benefit not only Southern Wine and Spirits, but also our suppliers and our retail customers.”