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40th Impact Seminar Highlighted By Marvin Shanken’s Presentation, Remarks By President George W. Bush

March 11, 2016

The 40th annual Impact Marketing Seminar was held yesterday at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, and the morning session kicked off with a voice familiar to all New Yorkers. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani narrated a video that highlighted the Seminar’s four decades and the history of M. Shanken Communications, which was established in 1973 when Marvin R. Shanken purchased Impact Newsletter for $5,000.

After the video presentation, Shanken took the stage to discuss the evolution of his company and its roster of publications, including Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, Whisky Advocate, Market Watch and Impact.

In his remarks, Shanken described the industry as a closed circle in the mid-1970s, when he was trying to establish Impact, and mentioned an array of major players from that era who are now defunct. “But I’m still here,” he said.

Shanken offered thanks to the industry executives who were supportive in those days, saving special mention for Republic National Distributing Company’s Alan Dreeben, Breakthru Beverage’s Ray Herrmann and Southern Wine & Spirits’ Harvey Chaplin.

He also referred to a speech he gave at the 1977 WSWA convention, which served as a wake-up call for the industry. The text of that speech was reprinted as part of a 200-page book that Shanken produced to commemorate 40 years of the Impact Seminar. Copies of the book were given to all Seminar attendees.

Shanken expounded at length on the acquisition and development of Wine Spectator, as well as the creation of Cigar Aficionado. He also spoke about the company’s many charitable endeavors—in particular its unwavering support of the Els for Autism foundation, which Shanken co-founded with golf great Ernie Els and his wife Liezl in 2009. Earlier this week, the foundation’s eighth annual golf pro-am raised nearly $2 million for the Els Center for Excellence, the Jupiter, Florida-based school for autistic children that Ernie and Liezl Els opened a year ago.

After looking back at the past 40 years, Shanken closed by expressing his excitement for his company’s—and the industry’s—future. “You ain’t see nothing yet,” he said.

The Seminar program then proceeded with a series of presentations from several of the industry’s leading executives, including Diageo North America president Deirdre Mahlan; Bacardi Ltd. CEO Mike Dolan; Treasury Wine Estates CEO Michael Clarke; William Grant & Sons CEO Simon Hunt; and Roger Nabedian, senior vice president & general manager, Premium Wine Division, E.&J. Gallo Winery.

The morning session concluded with a panel discussion on retailing that featured Chris Adams, CEO of New York’s Sherry-Lehmann; Michael Binstein, owner of Chicago-based Binny’s Beverage Depot; Christian Navarro, partner of Los Angeles-based Wally’s Wine & Spirits, and John Rydman, CEO of Houston-based Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods.

The day was capped off by a luncheon, where the featured speaker was George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, who answered questions from Shanken. Bush enlightened the audience with stories of his time as president and discussed foreign policy and key geopolitical issues.

Some observers called the 40th Impact Seminar the best one ever, but as Shanken said, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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