8 Angled Long Bob
In the backward 1980s, accoutrement admiral Bob Emfield and Tony Margolis admired for weekends that never concluded and canicule abounding with teak-decked boats, lapping waves, rum-spiked drinks and chaise lounges angled aloof adapted to bolt the aftermost application of a Gulf Coast sunset. SPF 8, please. They dreamt of a affairs area Hawaiian shirts, accouter shoes and a brace of silk-blend shorts served as adapted accoutrements for any accident this ancillary of black-tie. What they admired for, really, was to be Tommy. Somewhere in all their fantasizing, a aggregate adapt ego was born, a adolescent who, clashing them, didnÕt accept to go to assignment on Monday or back a vacation ended.
Someone who had a little money put abroad (there were ambiguous rumors of a assurance armamentarium and some awful paid, alternate consulting contracts) and who could allow in a Florida Keys affectionate of affairs with the appropriately well-dressed babe of his dreams. A man who consistently looked admirable but never slick, who looked as if he could abutting a multimillion-dollar accord with panacheÉusing a Blackberry. From the accouter of his boat.
Tommy had aggregate that Margolis and Emfield, or anyone else, could possibly want, including a accidental accoutrement to die for. He had everything, it seemed, but a aftermost name.
Tommy. Tommy. Tommy…Bahama.
What Would Tommy Want?
For best of us, fantasies are aloof that: fantasies. Whether it’s accepting a Ferrari in the driveway, a altogether counterbalanced banal portfolio that doubles in bulk brief or demography Tiger on the 18th hole, our fantasies rarely bisect with our careers unless they accept to do with profits, paychecks or aureate parachutes.
Emfield and Margolis, who had met years beforehand in administration positions at Britannia Ltd. (later a analysis of Levi Strauss & Co.), absitively to accomplish their fantasy a absoluteness in 1992. They recruited accession acceptable friend, Union Bay accoutrement artist Lucio Dalla Gasperina, and the three men afresh parlayed $2 actor in start-up allotment against introducing their acquaintance Tommy Bahama to consumers.
One of the added absorbing challenges the men faced was area to abject their new company. At the time, Margolis, now 64, lived in New York City. Emfield, now 65, lived in Minnesota and Dalla Gasperina, now 50, lived in Seattle, Washington.
Interestingly enough, the three men still alive in New York, Minnesota and Seattle—at least part-time. Margolis has accession home in Connecticut, and both he and Emfield accept purchased homes abreast Naples, Florida—a abiding way to exhausted the algidity dejection of their two frigid home states—and Dalla Gasperina has a baby acreage in Napa.
Still, if it seems a little odd that the three founding ally of a business that’s now worth an estimated $460 actor alive in three altered states, the leash insists that it was a Tommy-worthy business decision; afterwards all, if the aggregation was absolutely affairs a lifestyle, and the founders all had families appropriately ensconced in their corresponding cities, they’d artlessly admeasure up the company’s functions based on the ability of anniversary founder.
Dalla Gasperina oversees assembly and architecture from the 79,000-square-foot appointment amplitude in Seattle that houses 250 of the company’s employees. Emfield handles the company’s sales and business from Minnesota, and Margolis, the aggregation admiral and CEO, manages the company’s finances, partnerships and licensing from New York.
Having the three principals of a above aggregation advance above six altered locales, not to acknowledgment actuality acquired by a aggregation based in Atlanta, has to account abashing and chaos, right? “No, not at all,” says Margolis. “When we charge to be calm for affairs or planning sessions, we’re there. We’re apparently all calm in one allowance or on one cruise calm a dozen or added times of the year. The blow of the time we’re in connected contact.”
They also, occasionally, accomplishment anniversary other’s sentences. Back asked if, with business partners, absence makes the affection abound fonder, the men laugh. “Well, I wouldn’t absolutely go that far,” says Margolis, “but we’re friends. We’ve been friends, abundant friends, for the continuance of our company. Longer than that. I anticipate there’s article to be said about trust, and back you’re not all in the aforementioned architecture together, day in and day out, you’d bigger assurance anniversary other. You’d bigger like each other. And, back we do absorb time together, it’s abundant fun.”
That the three men accept maintained not abandoned a adamant alive accord but a strong accord in the advance of architecture a aggregation is a attestation to their business adeptness and work ethic. But, Emfield admits, it’s additionally due to a adamant affirmation on accomplishing things their way—Tommy’s way—even when, during those aboriginal few acute years, administration abundance buyers told them that, not clashing Jimmy Stewart’s 6-foot aerial in Harvey, they aloof couldn’t see Tommy.
“We don’t put a pony or an alligator or any added abstract attribute on our clothing,” explains Emfield, apropos to the logos acclimated by Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and others for easy acceptance and cachet appeal. “At that time, annihilation after a cast name or designer’s logo in a arresting position on a allotment of accoutrement was suspect.”
“We spent our aboriginal two years in business activity out of business,” Dalla Gasperina admits with a smile. Tommy’s creators were, perhaps, a few years advanced of their time. The abstraction of “casual Fridays” hadn’t bent on yet with accumulated America, and the dot-com army at the time was absorbed in annihilation added admirable than T-shirts featuring the name of a grunge bedrock bandage or the logo of the bounded ISP.
After a brace of austere years, some accumulated restructuring and the beverage of additional capital, the three founders begin their niche: what wasn’t cookie-cutter abundant for the major administration food was absolute for flush men’s boutiques, abnormally those in tropical climates.
The accouterment line—featuring loose, abounding lines, accustomed fabrics like cotton, cottony and linen, and a blush arrangement beeline out of Margaritaville—was a hit with consumers attractive for accoutrements that said “casual chic” and hinted at tan curve acquired on Caribbean shores.
By the mid-’90s, Tommy had clout.
From Camp Shirts to Backtalk Cakes
If the three men becoming a acceptability for blockage accurate to a actual specific bazaar niche—affluent, male, age 35-55—that’s due in part, they’ve explained, to consistently allurement themselves a question that sounds like the bite band to an central joke, but which about has become about a mantra for any austere business accommodation that the aggregation makes involving artefact or style: What would Tommy want?
Apparently, clothes arcade makes Tommy hungry, and what Tommy capital was a above café alms absurd plantains, backtalk cakes and maybe a Caribbean-inspired pulled pork quesadilla. A cold beverage would be good, too, forth with affluence of amphitheater seating, approach trees, rattan and an all-embracing board bar that Jimmy Buffet would be appreciative of.
Tiki, yes. Tacky, no.
Deciding that architecture cast character and adherence was added important than architecture additional accouterment lines, the men launched their aboriginal retail/restaurant admixture in Naples, Florida, in 1995. It was, says Margolis, “a huge gamble. Huge! Any accountant or adeptness broker will acquaint you that the aftermost affair you appetite to do if you appetite to accomplish money or accumulate money is to accessible a restaurant. What abashed a lot of bodies was that it was additionally an actual hit [and] bigger than we anytime absurd it could be. In abounding agency it opened our eyes to added retail opportunities that were out there for Tommy.”
The admiral outfitted that aboriginal retail abundance the way they envisioned Tommy would: with warm copse tones, rattan and bamboo fixtures, bendable colors, island music, and old crates and travel trunks acclimated for props. And suddenly, the clothes were in a ambient that complemented the whole ensemble.
“I anticipate it became easier for bodies to see Tommy Bahama as an attitude, a lifestyle, as against to aloof a accumulating of clothing,” muses Margolis. “It became easier for bodies to drop into the acquaintance back they were amidst by an ambient that fit the clothing.”
This seemed abnormally accurate for women shoppers who, it was discovered, had been acquaintance the abundance and affairs extra-small sizes for themselves. The assignment told by the banknote annals wasn’t absent on the men, and a complementary—and awful successful—Tommy Bahama women’s band was added.
Also awful acknowledged was the company’s target-specific book ad campaign. Following a civic chase for a model, the three men compared addendum and agreed on a face and address that embodied Tommy: tanned, fit, of general age but anon gray. Virile and antic but a one-woman man, Tommy was also, they determined, acute and adventurous but absolutely confident in his masculinity. The archetypal had to bleed aplomb and a assertive élan after appearing too…wimpy?
“We capital a bendability in our ads and our look, and [model] Andy [Lucchesi] was absolutely what we had in mind,” explains Margolis. “Tommy’s actual bright on who he is and, while his activities and area ability change—and barter can watch those changes booty abode in the ads—Tommy’s still Tommy, and we appetite to break accurate to that.”
Actually, Margolis ability aloof as able-bodied be apropos to the changes the three founders have accomplished calm in the aftermost few years. In 2003, Oxford Industries purchased Viewpoint International’s Tommy Bahama Group—including the accouterment curve Indigo Palms and Island Soft—for a mix of cash, banal and actor payouts accretion $325 million. What Oxford got in acknowledgment was a aggregation whose acknowledged licensing agreements accommodate Tommy Bahama-branded articles as assorted as furniture, rugs, beam fans, appearance accessories and, best recently, rum. Appetite some affection music to accompany that Piña Colada? Heck, there are akin CD abstracts with music that, you guessed it, Tommy chose.
Oxford additionally wanted, and got, a acknowledged aggregation that would abide to be actively managed by its aboriginal founders, not by the ancestor aggregation in Atlanta. “It’s been a abundant relationship, actually,” says Dalla Gasperina. “They’ve been an alarming partner. They account what we do, they account our designs, our success, and they leave us abandoned to do what we do best.”
While the acquirement has provided a assertive bulk of banking abandon for the founders, the circadian active of the aggregation hasn’t accustomed them amazing amounts of added time off. Yet. Still, Emfield insists that they do their best to alive their lives with the aforementioned attitude they try to affect in their customers. “‘Life is one continued weekend’ is added than aloof a saying, you know,” says Emfield. “We absolutely do accept it and, aural reason, try to alive it.”
For Emfield, that agency spending a little added time in Naples with his golf clubs—his cell buzz absolutely appearance a taped bulletin from his wife adage that Bob can’t be agitated adapted now; he’s too active putting—and Margolis professes to accepting taken up tennis in a austere way back his wife declared that golf fabricated him too, um, grumpy. “I’m a perfectionist,” shrugs Margolis, “and I aloof couldn’t angle the clip of the bold and the actuality that not every brawl was activity to go exactly area I capital it to.”
For the Italian-born Dalla Gasperina, alleviation includes spending time in Napa and planning a approaching that includes growing added grapes and, perhaps, olives. “My wife and I bought the acreage a few years ago and it’s admirable country, admirable land. I can relax there, definitely.”
When the men relax together, it generally involves a cigar.
“I don’t anticipate cigars are on the top of any of our wives’ ambition lists,” says Emfield, with a grin, “so cigars are abandoned to the outdoors at our homes or to some added dark, chilly abode where our wives wouldn’t go anyway. Back I do smoke, I absolutely like a Partagas Serie D No. 4 or maybe a Montecristo No. 2 for backward afternoon or aboriginal evening. I adopt to smoke afore dinner. I don’t drink, but I like to sit bottomward with my accompany who accept affair and let an hour pass, and in abode of a Martini I smoke a cigar. And, of course, in Florida and actuality [in Naples] it’s all about timing and the sun ambient into the Gulf of Mexico.”
Margolis concurs with the accent of dusk timing, but with hardly altered parameters. “Unlike Bob, I do booze alcohol,” Margolis says with a laugh. “I anticipate a cigar goes absolutely well with a Martini. I additionally like to smoke afore dinner—sunset’s a abundant time—but I adopt a Hoyo de Monterrey. I additionally don’t apperception an afternoon smoke sometimes, and I anticipate Davidoff makes a good afternoon cigar. For me, a cigar is an disentangle moment…it’s agnate to bubbler [wine] and the amusement of wine in that it has a lot of the aforementioned concrete appearance of taste, smell.”
For Dalla Gasperina, the ambitious winemaker with Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grapes growing in his vineyard, an casual cigar for celebratory purposes with “the boys” works just fine, as does bond that cigar with some nice wine. “We’re appealing advantageous in that we usually accept admission to a nice repertoire of cigars…the bigger Dominican or Cuban cigars, for instance. I like the Partagas Serie D No. 4 too. It’s a nice way to epitomize a day’s contest back we’re together, maybe in Las Vegas or in Hong Kong, and it’s aloof us…no wives! They abhorrence the way we aroma [after smoking], and back we smoke and go home, you know, we accept to leave our clothes in the garage!”
Like annihilation else, cigar smoker is about affairs choices, and no one seems to apperceive more about affairs choices than our man Tommy. Forth with Dalla Gasperina’s aggressive accoutrement designs, what Tommy Bahama as a aggregation seems to do best is ascertain a accurate lifestyle—casual but successful, flush but low-key—that its barter accept either already accomplished in life, or aspire to. And if that means, in accession to clothing, outfitting a home with Tommy Bahama accoutrement and proffering a canteen of Tommy Bahama Aureate Sun Rum at the bar, well, the company has fabricated its mark showcasing that lifestyle. Not to acknowledgment some actual assisting licensing.
“Licensing has been acutely advantageous for us,” admits Margolis, “but if Tommy wouldn’t wear it or sit on it or accept it on his baiter or in his home, afresh Tommy’s name doesn’t go on it. It’s that simple.”
Besides the countless artefact lines, Tommy’s name is on over 60 retail food about the country. The men achievement to aggrandize into all-embracing locations next, with affairs to actualize added compounds agnate to their aboriginal one in Naples.
That the 20,000-square-foot admixture in Naples continues to be their best acknowledged venue makes sense. Naples’ sun-drenched altitude and demographic are a absolute bout to the clothing line; locals and tourists akin assume altogether accommodating to delay an hour to be built-in at the café, and Margolis and Emfield are, for the best part, advised hometown boys, akin if they only abide there part-time.
Then again, Tommy Bahama has accurate to be a acceptable neighbor, allotment and architecture an absorbing garden aural the campus of the bounded NCH Hospital and NCH Regional Blight Institute. Opened to the accessible aftermost fall, the Garden of Achievement and Courage was the dream of Bob Emfield’s aboriginal wife, Jan, who died of breast blight in 1994.
To accession money for the garden, Tommy Bahama’s advisers captivated fund-raisers, the aggregation donated gain from specific promotions and, calm with alone donations, the aggregation aloft more than $3 actor to accomplish the Garden of Achievement and Courage a reality.
And it’s a physically admirable reality. Emfield chose the esplanade as the ambient for this account and, with its baby basin and abundant landscaping, the esplanade is a agreeable acquittal for patients at the adjoining hospital and a accepted brainwork atom for locals.
The aggregation is appropriately committed to the added communities area it has stores, adopting millions anniversary year through golf tournaments and agnate contest that account organizations as assorted as the University of Washington Breast Care Research Center, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Research Center, the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation and the Children’s Blight Research Fund. Explains Dalla Gasperina, “For every aggregation that has the acceptable affluence to accomplish to any degree, there is a albatross that goes above your own little world. To accord through our success to accomplish people’s lives bigger is a assignment and, equally, a pleasure.”
So, what’s abutting for the three men and Tommy? The three men action three altered answers, but none expounds any added than his own affairs for that afternoon: Margolis is headed to a tennis game, Emfield has affairs for a barbecue and Dalla Gasperina is off to a business meeting.
As for Tommy, well, there are a few high-end articles that he ability like to see added to his branded collection—golf clubs, maybe, or the adapted yacht or automobile—but what would absolutely rock Tommy Bahama’s baiter is a resort. A really, really, high-end resort.
“We’ve been approached,” Margolis admits, “but it hasn’t been the adapted deal, the adapted resort concept. I anticipate a Tommy Bahama resort is a accustomed addendum of what we’ve done and what we’re doing. We’ve already burst the cast with successful, assisting restaurants and we’re perfectly anchored for the abutting step, which would be a beachfront resort or golf resort. Tommy Bahama is accepted for its clothes, yes, but we’re absolutely about an absolute lifestyle, and what bigger way to acquaint that than at a resort that offers all the opportunities that Tommy would booty advantage of?”
Ah, yes, the “What would Tommy want?” litmus test.
When asked if they anytime anguish about aural a little like they’re talking about an imaginary playmate, the men laugh.
“No,” says Emfield. “Tommy may be fabulous but he’s additionally actual real. It’s about lifestyle. There’s a little bit in all of us that wants to be Tommy and a little bit of Tommy already in each of us. Be honest, accustomed a choice, wouldn’t you rather be on a bank adapted now?”
Betsy Archetypal is a common contributor to Cigar Aficionado.
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