Executive Vice President, General Manager of SWS of Hawaii
Before joining Southern Wine and Spirits of California in early 1989, Mr. Shon, who is now Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii, spent more than a decade in the restaurant business. Born and raised in Honolulu, Mr. Shon graduated from University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Starting as a busboy, Mr. Shon gradually rose through the ranks of a Honolulu-based restaurant where he worked, ending up as an assistant manager. During this period, Mr. Shon “I picked up every book and magazine to educate about food and wine.” Mr. Shon also says he took a number of wine appreciation classes offered by the restaurant’s management. Today, Mr. Shon says, “The passion I have for this business all started with my restaurant work.”
Continuing his story, Mr. Shon recalls, “In the late 1980’s, the restaurant’s owners, for whom he worked, decided to open a new restaurant in Newport Beach, California, and they asked me to move there and work as the assistant manager there.” In California, Mr. Shon says part of his responsibilities included the restaurant’s beverage program, where he acted as the buyer.
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before Mr. Shon’s passion and buying talents came to the attention of Southern Wine and Spirits of California sales executives, one of whom subsequently arranged for Mr. Shon to meet Jim Allen, then General Manager of Wine for the Southern California division of Southern Wine and Spirits of California
By the end of the interview, Mr. Shon recalls, Jim Allen offered him a position, and Mr. Shon joined shortly thereafter as an On-Premise Salesman for the Southern California division of Southern Wine and Spirits of California. Mr. Shon worked the Laguna Beach territory; after about a year in this position, he was nominated for “Salesman of the Year” award for the Southern California sales division. Then, in early 1990, Mr. Shon was promoted to Division Wine Manager-On-Premise in Southern California for Orange County.
In 1992, Mr. Shon was promoted to Division Manager in the Orange County territory for Wine and Spirits, which included management of all beverage categories, in the Southern Wine and Spirits of California portfolio. Mr. Shon served in that position until 1996, when he was tapped to return to Hawaii as General Manager of the newly launched Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii operation. Then, in January 2001, Mr. Shon was appointed to his present position, serving as Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii.
Mr. Shon is quick to credit all the Company’s employees, sales staff and operational support staff for making the operation function as successfully as it has. Summing up this ongoing effort to exceed both the customer and the supplier’s expectations, Mr. Shon says, “Everything we do is built around the team concept; it is no exaggeration to say that every department here has a positive working relationship with everyone else.”
Mr. Shon is quick to emphasize this team spirit is no accident. It comes from the very top, from the Company’s senior management in Miami. Mr. Shon says that anywhere you look in the Southern organization, “Employees are treated with respect; we reward them for their accomplishments, and we’re never afraid to pat them on the back for a job well done.”
For the future, Mr. Shon is determined on further cultivating The Company’s super-premium wine and spirits brands, particularly in the on-premise arena given the high level of tourism in the state. Mr. Shon is also very proud of the Company’s deepening involvement in a wide range of community and local affairs – from contributing to local colleges and universities to charitable support, including Hawaii Food Bank, The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and The Lupus Foundation, among numerous others, to getting involved with the state’s restaurant association on shared concerns about selected public policy issues. In addition, The Company is deeply committed to and involved with supporting the state’s hospitality and tourist industries.
Summing up, Mr. Shon says“ The relationship we have with Southern Wine and Spirits of California and with Southern Wine and Spirits of America gives us a distinct advantage here in Hawaii. They are always ready to help us – from providing technological support to furnishing needed products on short notice. It’s very refreshing and it really helps us every day. Overall, their support is inspiring.”