Miami, Florida, March 13, 2014: Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. (Southern), the nation’s leading wine and spirits distributor with operations in 35 states, today announced the retirement of Jim Allen, who most recently served as Senior Vice President, Fine Wines. Allen’s retirement was effective January 6, 2014 and his service to the company commemorated last night at a celebratory dinner in Los Angeles.
A 35-year veteran of the company, Allen was widely respected throughout Southern, across all three tiers of the U.S. wine and spirits industry and executives around the world.
Noting his years of service, Allen said, “Southern is truly a great company, and I have been privileged to serve in Florida, California, Hawaii, Colorado, New York and across the Pacific Northwest. It has been an amazing experience, and I want to particularly thank Chairman & CEO Harvey Chaplin and President & COO Wayne Chaplin—as well my mentor, Mel Dick, Senior Vice President and President, Wine Division—for their friendship and support over the years. Looking ahead, I am excited to spend time with my family in our home in Oregon.”
Harvey R. Chaplin, remarked, “I have always said that ‘Southern’s greatest asset is its people.’ In our wine business—along with his colleagues Mel Dick and Steve Slater—Jim is as well-respected an executive and human being as you will find. We will all miss him, and I wish Jim all good things for him and his family going forward.”
Wayne E. Chaplin added, “Jim and I go back many years, and time and again he has answered our call to serve in one key market after another, embodying the sensitivity, expertise and the entrepreneurial spirit we all strive for in our daily work. While we often talk about Jim’s impact on the company’s performance in new markets, his legacy really goes much further than that… Jim has mentored, coached and inspired literally thousands of Southern sales professionals. He will be very much missed, but he will be remembered for his many contributions here at Southern for years to come.”
Paying tribute to Allen, Mel Dick said: “I am honored to say that I hired Jim Allen in 1977 after experiencing his creative and charismatic approach to marketing fine wine at a Tampa country club. On behalf of all of Jim’s friends and associates at Southern, I want to acknowledge his unmatched record of travel and outstanding service—not only to Southern, but to all his friends nationwide at all tiers of our great wine and spirits industry. Jim has been a key player in Southern’s growth and expansion over the last three decades, and he will be missed. We extend our best wishes to Jim and his family as he enters this new, ‘golden’ phase of his life.”
Southern’s Executive Vice President, General Manager, Wine Division Steve Slater expressed both deep professional and personal regard for Allen. “The industry will miss one of its most soulful and passionate instructors of the game. Jim has inspired hundreds of individuals to be better in all aspects of their lives and careers. He's a ‘culture generator’ that has left his mark in many Southern states—and is a true friend.”
Southern Wine & Spirits of California’s Executive Vice President, General Manager Jack Brennan concluded, “Over the last three years since Jim came back to California to oversee relations with our fine wine suppliers in the region, he has taken our relationships with these valued suppliers to new heights. I have worked closely with Jim over the years and have seen his vast knowledge of and passion for wine translate into improved communication, coordination and results with our suppliers, customers and employees alike.”
A Michigan native, Allen discovered his love of wine while working in a country club in Tampa, Florida. He quickly became a student of wine and began building his bank of knowledge in the industry. Hired by Mel Dick, Allen began his career at Southern in 1977, and his drive for excellence resulted in Southern’s establishment of a highly successful on-premise division in the state. As his career at Southern progressed, Allen was appointed to the growing operation in California, where he held the position of Vice President, General Manager. Building on his remarkable successes, Allen’s talents were put to use in Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii where he developed a first-rate sales staff in the market.
After managing the Colorado division of Southern, as Executive Vice President, General Manager, Allen was named Executive Vice President, Wines of Southern’s newly established New York division in January 2005. Through the final stages of his professional journey, Allen served in leadership positions in Southern’s Pacific Northwest markets, as well as California—returning there in 2011 as Senior Vice President, Fine Wines. In this capstone role at Southern, Allen was the company’s senior executive of fine wine supplier relations in the all-important California wine regions.