When she was younger, Tory Britton Sims was drawn to science. As she grew older, curiosity led her to a career path powered by a different type of science – the science of numbers. She was introduced to the world of finance through her first job at an auditing bank, holding companies for the Federal Reserve Bank. Many of the companies were small and unsophisticated and her day-to-day job involved constructing financial statements from checkbook registers. Although this job had nothing to do with the wine industry, it provided Tory with a significant base of where financial data comes from as well as an understanding of the right and wrong uses for funds. As it turns out, the common denominator for all companies, regardless of industry, is funds.
Perhaps one of the most important players in any company over the last year, and any year, is the Chief Financial Officer. Since March of 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis was declared a global pandemic, Tory found herself asking alarming questions such as: How do we generate cash? How do we keep people employed? How do we keep employees safe? As she reflects on the past year, she states, “It has been challenging and rewarding as the CFO.” Conditions were tumultuous and often changed dramatically and quickly. On numerous occasions, Tory found herself preparing financial projections, evaluating what changes could be implemented and the impact they would have. In the end, she acknowledges, “We finished the year with success.”
The year 2020 hit close to home in more ways than one for Tory. She and her family spent time evacuated during the devastating Glass Fire that broke out in late September and her house suffered damage from the roaring blaze. Although the fire damage is minimal, most of her free time these days is spent getting utilities restored, cleaning up debris, working with the insurance company, and planning for a rebuild. However, when she can find time to sneak away, the Napa parks are calling her name. An avid hiker and mountain biker, Tory loves the open air – she has even hiked Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S.!
Q&A with Tory Britton Sims, CFO
FF: From your point of view, what is the most encouraging trend for the wine industry that resulted from Covid?
TBS: I certainly believe wine is ‘essential’, but with Covid to now be termed an essential worker is validating.
FF: What advantages and/or disadvantages have you faced in a male dominated career path?
TBS: The wine industry, I’ve found to be accommodating to women. Particularly with accounting, marketing, and human resources. More recently, it has been heartening to see an increasing percentage of women working in the cellar and vineyards.
FF: What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
TBS: Frank Family Blanc de Blancs and potato chips!
FF: If you could only drink one bottle of wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Daily winery operations could not proceed without women such as Tory, and we are grateful for all of her contributions to Frank Family Vineyards and the surrounding wine industry. Thank you, Tory!