Friday - October 19, 2007 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
George Szigeti is the president of Better Brands Ltd. The company received the prestigious Golden Bar Award for the sales and marketing of Red Stripe recently, presented by Diageo, the world’s leading beer, wines and spirits company. The Golden Bar (made by the same company that makes the Oscar statue) recognizes excellence and passion in the beverage industry and is awarded at a ceremony not unlike the Academy Awards.
Where were you born and raised?
Your first job was not related to this industry in any way, right?
That’s right. I was a professional surfer and at 17 I won the Malibu World Championship of Surfing. I had no interest in the food and beverage world at that time - I thought I’d be surfing forever.
So what happened?
Well, I was smart enough to realize that I’d need to have a career (laughs). I was recruited out of UCLA by people from Gallo and it started there.
How did that come about?
I was working at a steak house and I’d just finished college when Gallo offered me a job. As soon as I started getting involved with wines and spirits I loved it. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do since.
What is it that appeals to you?
Like sports, it’s very competitive, and obviously there’s something in my nature that likes that (smiles).
How do you relax nowadays?
I like to golf and spend time with my family.
Favorite golf courses?
I like Waialae and Turtle Bay, and on the Mainland I love Pebble Beach. I played in Scotland not too long ago at Kingsbarns, and that is an outstanding course with the most unusual layout I’ve ever seen.
Has anyone had a big influence on you thus far?
Some of the Gallo people from the early days certainly influenced me. Rich Mezsnick was instrumental in teaching me a few lessons about loyalty and about not being swayed easily. In the early days at Gallo, too, I learned something about the grass being greener. Sometimes you have to realize it’s just grass. When I look back, they were important lessons to learn, and I’m glad I learned them early on.
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
John Wooden. What an incredible sportsman, coach and leader. And Bill Gates. He changed the world. I’d love the experience of listening and talking to both men.
Where do you like to eat out?
Because we have a 14-year-old daughter, a lot of our choices come down to family places - we like Japanese food and we eat Mexican food a couple times a month. When it comes to taking out clients and entertaining, there are so many outstanding restaurants in Hawaii.
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