Innovative service: Cinemark's Bob Shimmin earns NAC salute


It is with great pleasure that I present the 2013 National Association of Concessionaires Bert Nathan Award winner to you: Bob Shimmin, VP of food and beverage at Cinemark Theatre. As an editor of Film Journal International and a board member of NAC, I am in a unique position to write about the Bert Nathan winners because these colleagues are also my friends. I know and respect the lives and careers they have built, and Bob has made an exceptional lifelong career in the theatre industry.

The annual Bert Nathan Memorial award is given to an individual within NAC who has demonstrated leadership within the organization as well as in his or her career, and shown an ability to engage our industry in an innovative way that helps it grow and improve. Bob has a deep love for the business, is well-educated, and has brought dedication and creative thinking to his involvement in theatres and the NAC organization.

Bob grew up in the exhibition industry with fond childhood memories of touring theatres and drive-ins with his father, Phil Shimmin of Pacific Theatres. It was no surprise that when Bob turned 16, his first job was working at the concession stand in Pacific’s Galleria 4 Theatre in Sherman Oaks, CA. Bob’s efforts to get away from the inevitable splatter of Superkist II from the buttery topping dispenser were thwarted by his GM, who always scheduled Bob in concessions, claiming that he couldn’t forego the higher per-caps and balanced inventories by allowing Bob to be wasted as an usher.

Two years and countless oil-stained ties and shirts later, Bob left Los Angeles and traveled north to attend college at UC Berkeley. Through much of his four years there, he supplemented the money his parents provided for tuition, room and board by working as an assistant manager and then general manager at various Pacific theatres in the Bay Area. In 1988, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in Political Science and two years later finished the MBA program at San Francisco State University.

From the age of seven, Bob was active in scouting, and ultimately attained the rank of Eagle Scout. During his college years, he would frustrate his district manager at Pacific Theatres by taking the summer off in order to work as business manager of a scout camp in the High Sierras. This summer job allowed him to broaden his management and foodservice skills, as he oversaw all food purchasing, commissary and kitchen operations, the camp store and the business office for a summer camp visited by 300 to 400 scouts each week. Most importantly, the job also allowed Bob the opportunity to enjoy his passion for sailing and he took every opportunity to escape the commissary to get out on the camp’s lake, where he taught small-boat sailing in the afternoons.

Following graduate school, Bob accepted a position with Pacific Concessions in San Bruno, CA. As director of operations, he oversaw the distribution to and operation of concession facilities at approximately 100 theatres including circuits such as Signature Theatres, San Carlos Cinemas, CinemaStar, CinemaCal and Landmark Theatres. After nine years with Pacific Concessions, the opportunity arose to join Century Theatres in San Rafael, CA, as VP of concessions.

It was 1997, and Century was developing its first megaplex theatre: the Century Rio 24, an 110,000-square-foot complex in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bob guided the development of Century’s first fully self-service, cafeteria-style concessions, which allowed customers to help themselves to a wide range of products and pay for their purchases at cashier stations. The success of the concession operation at this theatre led to the remodeling of over 30 Century theatres as well as the incorporation of self-serve concessions into 40 new theatres constructed during the subsequent nine years. In 2005, Bob was promoted to group VP, purchasing and concessions, at Century Theatres.

In the fall of 2006, Bob joined Cinemark in his current position, when Century Theatres was acquired by Cinemark. Cinemark has embraced the Century self-serve concession design, which it now utilizes at most newly constructed theatres.

I asked Bob about the importance of NAC and its future. He responded, "The current political climate and the budgetary shortfalls at the municipal, state and federal level have dramatically ramped up the threat of more regulation and higher taxation. NAC is in a position to add value by tracking these threats, particularly those arising at the local level, and educating their membership on grass-roots strategies to defeat these threats."

Bob currently serves on the board of the National Association of Concessionaires and also sits on the concession task force and the advisory board of the National Association of Theatre Owners. In his North Texas community, Bob and his partner of 15 years, Robb Blanchette, are involved in efforts to advance legislation on issues related to realizing equality for gays and lesbians in Texas. Please join me in congratulating Bob on this well-deserved honor.