My Summer Vacation [so far]


We are on our way back to Naples.  Since we have Larry [the dog] with us, we flew direct on AirTran to Ft. Lauderdale, and now we are driving across alligator alley.  It’s about an hour and forty-five-minute drive.  Dick, from Florida Airport Transportation [239-390-2440], picked us up at around 11:45AM and should have us at the house by 12:30PM.  His car service is the best in Southwest Florida.  Knowing Dick, we’ll be there by 12:15PM.

I am pretty excited by what transpired while we were home over the past 7 weeks.  My return to the Walker Center in May started out a little slow, but quickly picked up a head of steam.

Here are some of the highlights:

The electronics division of the Advantage Co, which combines the various operations of the Stereo Advantage and Lifetime Service, has been on its best roll in 20 years.  It is truly a new company.  The renaissance of this division is due to the energy and determination of the leadership group that I call 9 Volt and our LTS technicians who have put us at the forefront of the industry.  I have had very little to do with this resurgence, and that makes me prouder than ever of what is still our signature business [and, once again, our most profitable resource].

Recognizing the impact that their commitment has had on their business encouraged me to create an opportunity for them to actually make it their own.  Accordingly, we have worked out a program for the 9 Volt management team [Dej, Al, Joe, Jim, Wes, Mike, Kevin, Kam, and Butch] to purchase 51% of the combined electronics operations [all headquartered at the Wehrle Dr. facility].  When the new Stereo Advantage Warehouse Sales Center opened on June 6th, the Wehrle facility became fully loaded.  It is a fitting start for the future.

Over at Giancarlo’s, adding a dinner menu, the new Cento rooms, and an expanded patio has brought us to full capacity.  This past Saturday night we had a full patio, two events in the Vantaggio and Cento Banquet Room respectively, and we were catering the White Party.  It was as busy as I could imagine.  Pat O’Connor has been doing a great job with our corporate catering, as well.  We are in the midst of a kitchen expansion, and it has been as chaotic as it is exciting.  We are still learning as we grow, but it’s been a remarkable first two years from concept to where we are today.

At TW&Co, we hosted Children’s Hospital’s Beautiful Women Do Beautiful Things event, and it was the impetus for a complete restyling of the Women’s department.  The store looked better than it ever has [at least that’s what Janet told me, and I trust her judgment], and the event was our best ever – by far.  Of course, we are continuing to renovate and expand, and the progress has been transformative.

The Nantucket Shop and Tiny Walker are currently being combined and developed with the anticipation of moving into their expanded space at the start of 2015.  Ali has brought her preppie pedigree and style instincts back home from college, and the next three years should provide a great incubation for our new pink and green initiative.

Footwear is expanding to include an outdoor shop that will feature Patagonia, Canada Goose, and The North Face.  While Jewelry has been expanded and moved closer to Women’s.  Women’s, of course, could not be left out of the mix, so we have added a new handbag department with everything from Marc Jacobs to DVF to Tory Burch to Rebecca Minkoff to …

With the remarkable success of The Beauty Bar, we have decided to expand it into a fully loaded cafe’.  TW Body+Beauty will also be getting a blowout bar and a new make-up shop by the end of the summer.  However, the biggest news out of B+B this summer is that Whole Foods Market has authorized our Bogavia line for their stores.  Bogavia, Modern Luxuri, and Piece Apparel are our future, and their current success gives us a great foundation to build on.

But there’s been even more to my seven-week visit:

At our Autonomic Resources partnership, we are about to get our DISA ATO from the Department of Defense, and that, along with our FedRAMP IaaS ATO, puts us at the forefront of the government’s cloud initiative.  This is remarkable for a company of our size and limited resources, and, because of our unexpected prowess in this sector, we are now being pursued for acquisition by the big boys of the industry.  This is all pretty heady stuff for the partnership.  We’ll see how it all plays out this summer.

And, last but not least, while I was home, Joe and I got to spend some time playing golf with a 12-year-old phenom named Will Thomson, who also happens to be Tom’s [our Consilium partner] son.  He was the youngest participant ever in the recent Junior Masters Tournament at East Aurora CC.  The tournament attracts the top 18 and under amateurs from around the world, and Will made it to the championship round of 32.  Simply incredible, but what’s more incredible is his demeanor, proving that, as always, how you do it is more important than what you do.

There’s more, but those are the highlights of the summer so far [along with my grandkids Francesca and Sam].  I hope your summer is going as well.

PS  The highlight of my flight down was riding along with my buddy Mitch.  He inadvertently inspired me to open a new Modern Luxuri mall concept store.  One of the key aspects of it [along with Modern Luxuri, Bogavia, and Piece Apparel] will be a jewelry trade-in component.  I’d like to have one open by Christmas.


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