A Tasty Opportunity For Veteran Franchisee Robert Kay


VOM VASS  |  A Tasty Opportunity  | 

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of print Search & Employ®  | 

VOM FASS is a worldwide retailer, boasting 170 stores in Germany and a total of more than 270 shops in 20 countries. “VOM FASS” translates as “from the cask,” and the company offers cask-aged vinegars, oils, wines, spirits, and liqueurs direct from the cask. The company sells all of its products in a variety of quantities, and dispenses them into any of more than 40 selections of traditional and elegant bottles. Each bottle is inscribed with a special message, or simply with details of its contents. Its customers are always encouraged to return with their bottles for a refill.

Robert Kay was the first veteran to join VOM FASS. He has lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida for 25 years. As a youth, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, and served from 1982 to 1986. He missed being in the military after being discharged, but he waited until his two daughters were grown to join the National Guard – in 2007.

Robert completed a tour in Afghanistan in March 2012. During the tour, he and his family took a break with a two-week trip to Germany. As luck would have it, he and his wife, Debbie, walked into a VOM FASS store in Garmisch. The staff was warm and welcoming. The culinary oils, fruit and balsamic vinegars, wines, whiskeys, and liqueurs were attractively displayed in wooden casks, ceramic amphorae, and glass balloons. The staff invited the Kays to taste the products before deciding on a purchase. They enjoyed the experience, and observed how the other customers enjoyed sampling the products, seeing them dispensed directly from the cask into their chosen vessels, and watching the staff hand-dip the bottles in wax for shipping. Robert wondered whether he could successfully duplicate this style of business in the United States.

Upon returning to the United States, he contacted the U.S. master franchisor for VOM FASS in Madison, Wisconsin. After thorough evaluation, careful business-plan development, and much soul-searching, he decided to open a store in Sarasota.

With the help of his family, friends, business advisors, and guidance from the Small Business Development Center, Kay can now call himself a VOM FASS franchise partner; he and Debbie are working to open the store. Robert said that the Sarasota market is trending toward the type of high-quality, eco-friendly, and natural products offered by VOM FASS. These trends, coupled with the large number of visitors and tourists that Sarasota gets each year, make it “the perfect place for a store like this,” according to Robert.

Robert said that he and his wife “have reached a point in their lives where their experiences mesh well with the VOM FASS business plan.” His has retail experience and his wife’s background is business management. “We believe that, if we work at it, we can operate a very successful VOM FASS store,” he said.

David Gibson, CEO of VOM FASS USA and a Vietnam Veteran, said that the company is seeking to partner with other qualified veterans. “We know that the military experience instills a ‘can do’ attitude,” he said. “This translates well to small business ownership where hard work, persistence, and problem-solving lead to success. We already have two more veterans signed who will be opening stores in Florida and Colorado this year.”

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers