As Cape Beverage grows, we’ll need to expand our sales team. And our newest addition comes to us with a wealth of experience.
“Rob came to us with a ton of experience from a few breweries in the area,” says Director of Sales Bill Zaninelli. “He knows the market and spent a lot of time building awesome relationships with our retailers. He knows his stuff, he knows our product, and taking over Evan’s territory was seamless. That’s critical, because Burlington and Camden Counties are super important territories for us.
“Also, he’s a huge fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.(So am I so he has that going for him) I sent him a picture of my six-foot Gandalf in his Santa hat, and he loved it.
“Rob is kicking ass. He’s doing really well.”
Welcome Rob Holmes!
Rob is originally from Cherry Hill but moved around quite a bit while he was growing up.
“My mom moved around a lot,” he says, “so I lived in Philly for a little while when I was young. She was in Berlin, Atco, Mount Laurel. She’s in Florida, now. She’s just a nomad. But I mostly lived in Cherry Hill with my dad. Went to school all through Cherry Hill — I graduated from Cherry Hill East. But lived all over the place whenever I was with my mom.”
He did about a year at Camden Community College for education but decided that school wasn’t for him. In addition, he had about two semesters at trade school to become a carpenter and a welder.
“But I haven’t used any of those skills in a pretty long time,” he laughs. “I would not want to try to fix anybody’s anything that needed fixing at this point.”
When he was younger, Rob enjoyed exploring some of the vacant buildings and other creepy spots highlighted in Weird NJ.
“I still buy it every three months when it comes out,” he says, “but I used to explore places like the insane asylum at Pennhurst.”
His Weird NJ adventuring eventually brought him to Cape May.
“The first thing I did down the shore was in Cape May,” he says. “There are those old World War II bunkers on the beach — you can walk up to them at low tide. So I went into one of them and started walking around. It was pretty cool.”
While Rob admits that he’s not a big beach-goer, he’s spent more time in the Somers Point/Ocean City area than in Cape May.
“I’ll go to the beach to hang out and drink beers,” he says, “but stick me in the woods on the side of a mountain, and I’m much happier.”
Nonetheless, Rob loves Cape May, as well.
“It’s a cool town,” he says. “I like that it’s old-school, it’s got the winding roads and Victorian houses. It’s a different shore town than any other, really. And I love the history behind it and all the haunted stuff.”
He covered Cape May as a rep for Dogfish and used to walk around town with another rep.
“He’d say, ‘Yeah, I’m pretty sure this place is haunted,’” he says, “so I love the spooky vibe of the whole town.”
Rob used to homebrew, but he’s gotten away from it in recent years.
“My dad’s neighbor got me into homebrewing,” he says. “He’s the Head Brewer over at one of the breweries in Cherry Hill, and I was part of Barley Legal for a little bit. But I haven’t homebrewed for six or seven years. My girlfriend and I are in an apartment, now, so there’s just no room.”
He says that he’s not much of a sports fan — he claims to have had Phillies season passes mostly to eat cheesesteaks and drink beer in the parking lot –, but he’s really into pop culture.
“That’s where my interests lie,” he says. “I have a huge collection of toys — like action figures — specializing in Star Wars and horror. I have a pretty big collection of Jason Voorhees figures — I don’t even know how many I have now. Maybe twelve or so. Maybe more. I have so much Star Wars stuff that they’re in boxes in the closet. I don’t even display them anymore.”
Rob says that he’s big into comic books and horror movies. He claims to have nearly 400 horror movies in his collection — the cheesier and campier the better.
“The worse the movie is, the more I like it,” he says. “If it’s got under a three on Rotten Tomatoes, I guarantee you I’m gonna love it.”
And his other love is Star Wars.
“I’ve got Star Wars tattoos,” he says. “I’m just a humongous Star Wars fan.”
In addition, Rob loves Dungeons and Dragons and board games.
“I write stuff for D&D,” he says. “I have a massive collection of board games, as well. I could talk about my nerdy pop culture stuff forever, but that’s the other thing we do in our free time: get done work, have some dinner, and play a couple of board games.”
When it comes to music, Rob says that his tastes really run the gambit.
“I know a lot of people say that,” he says, “but I listen to everything from Zack Brown Band to Cannibal Corpse and pretty much everything in between.”
But he’s primarily a fan of punk and metal.
“I tend to listen to things that are loud and fast,” he says.
Rob is a big fan of live music, and, like many of us, he’s been lamenting the lack of live music events due to the pandemic.
“2020 was the first year since I was 15 that I didn’t go see a live show,” he says. “It sucks.”
He says that he started seeing The Bouncing Souls when he was sixteen and has seen them about fifty times. He’s a big fan of Rush and Dropkick Murphys, too.
“I went to Boston in 2008 for St. Paddy’s Day weekend to see four Dropkick Murphy shows,” he says. “That was super fun. I also didn’t drink at the time because I was still younger, so it was literally in Boston, during a blizzard, walking around to see Dropkick Murphys. I saw them at three different venues: the Agganis Arena at Boston University, this little bar that they did an acoustic set, and at House of Blues.”
He and his girlfriend Amanda live with their dog Hopper, cat Vader, and rabbit Mason.
“We’re good pet people,” he says. “At one point, we also had a guinea pig and four rats, as well, but they’ve unfortunately passed away.”
Little-known fact: rats actually make excellent pets.
“They’re awesome,” he says. “If they lived past two-years-old, they’d be the best. They’re like tiny dogs. They’ll sit on your shoulder, and their big thing is that they groom — that’s their sign of affection. One of them would just sit on my shoulder as I was watching TV and groom my beard. They’re really awesome: they know their names and you can train them. They’re really cool.”
But, these days, Rob really loves just hanging out with his girlfriend and pets.
“We watch a lot of television and movies,” he says. “I play a lot of late-night video games — I was up till one in the morning playing video games last night.”
Rob claims to excel at hanging out.
“Whether it’s hanging out at home, just watching TV, watching a movie, or just sitting at the bar hanging out,” he says.
Rob got into the beer industry about seven years ago.
“I started working part-time at Wegmans in Cherry Hill,” he says, “and I moved up pretty quickly to the beer buyer. I spent about two and a half years there, and in my last six months or so, I was doing an unpaid internship over at a brewery outside of Philly — one day a week, I would just go over and sweep and help can and things like that.”
Apparently, they liked what they saw because they offered him a job as a sales representative.
“So I did that for a very short time, about six months,” he says. “Then I went through a big interview process and got the job with Dogfish and was there for about three years. I left there — perfect timing! — in January of 2020.”
Rob was offered a position at another Philly-area brewery for about eight months.
“I did everything,” he says. “I worked in the back, I was a bartender, I did deliveries. I just kinda did everything around there.”
There were a few things that attracted Rob to the job here.
“It’s a solid Jersey brand, and obviously, I’m a Jersey guy,” he says, “born and raised and Jersey punk and all that.”
His paternal grandfather had a house in Somers Point, so he was a frequent visitor over the summer and was attracted to the beach vibe of Cape May Brewing Company.
“Also, I’ve got a lot of buddies who work here,” he says. “I’ve known Evan for years, Chris Verderame for years. I actually met Justin Vitti years and years ago at beard competitions, and we reconnected once I got here.”
Rob says that all of his buddies who worked here loved it, so it made sense to hop on board.
“Evan always had good things to say. Chris always had good things to say. My buddy Mark Graves works on the production side, and he always had good things to say. So, that’s why I initially wanted to come on board.
“And the beer’s good.”
While he was at Wegmans, Rob bought our beer from Justin, back when he was still in sales.
“And it seemed like a cool company,” he says. “Coming from where I came from Dogfish Head, where it became super, super corporate — especially in the last six months I was there –, I liked that Cape May was still small and local.”
Rob is looking forward to growing with the company.
“I said to Doug on our first day,” he recalls, “that we weren’t getting in on the ground floor at Cape Beverage, but we were on the stairs going up to the second floor. I like that. I like everything about it.”
And, thus far, he’s enjoying being part of the sales team.
“Everyone’s opinions actually matter,” he says. “In some of my other jobs, there was no contact with the upper management at all. But, now, I can call Ryan whenever I need.”
He says that there’s a combination of freedom and structure here that you don’t really find in other jobs.
“The freedom of being able to go out and do what you need to do for the day,” he says, “but also having the structure of running a sales route. When you’re working for a brewery, there’s not a lot of structure — you just have to figure out where you want to go that week and take it from there. With this, there’s the structure of ‘Monday, you go here. Tuesday you go here.’ But there’s also the freedom of being able to deviate if you need to. Wednesdays and Thursdays are my slow days, so I can get other work stuff done if I need to.”
And he’s really enjoying his coworkers.
“Everyone’s really cool,” he says. “I haven’t had any problems with anyone. And, like I said, I’ve already known a lot of these guys for years. No rocks, as they say.”
“I drink more coffee than beer at this point,” he says. “I probably go through five cups of coffee a day, so any coffee beer — coffee IPA, coffee stout, coffee porter, whatever –, I’m gonna be all about it. It’s fantastic. I could drink year-round. I like the roastiness — it tastes like a cup of cold brew, which I like. I also really like Key Lime Corrosion because I love margaritas and anything lime. Key Lime Corrosion hits the nail on the head.”
Rob is taking over Camden and Burlington Counties from Evan, who’s been promoted to Regional Sales Manager. Be sure to say hello to Rob when you see him out and about!