During his career, Joe Siegal has worked as a shoe buyer and salesperson for over 50 years. As a professional in this industry for over half a century, he could author his own history on the shoe business. So, I felt fortunate to sit down with Joe in his show room on the final day of TRU Show in San Francisco this past August. At age 80, Joe is full of wisdom, energy, and has a terrific sense of humor. Enjoy reading about this TRU Soul.
Joe, how did you get started in this industry?
I started out in retail while I was going through college. I traveled the west coast as a buyer for footwear distributors in Los Angeles. Around 1958, I joined California Magdesian Bros. and represented them for almost 55 years. I retired for a couple of years to help my wife who had knee surgery. But, David Tate Shoes asked me to come back and represent their line and I happily took the opportunity.
Tell me about the David Tate brand?
The David Tate line includes women’s comfort casuals from flats to heels. We warehouse everything in Los Angeles. So, we can offer great service and the full range of sizes and widths. Many of our classic patterns have been in the line for years. Our products have broad distribution in the US and overseas in Australia, Scotland and England and are available at small retail stores to department stores and ever increasing online sales.
David Tate is a fun, family oriented company. It is run by 4 brothers, all of whom are great business people. They are also great to work with. David cooks lunch for the employees every day in the office which has been converted to a kitchen. He’s a great cook and very health conscious.
What do you love about your job?
I value the friendships I’ve made over the years. You don’t lose friends in this business. It’s a very small industry. I also enjoy the challenge of working with people to enhance their business wherever possible.
If you continue to be active, the odds of maintaining a healthy and interesting life improve. I check Forbes every morning. If I’m not in it, I go to work.
How long have you been coming to TRU Show?
I’ve been coming since it started.
TRU Show answered a need. Not every buyer goes to the big shows. So, this regional show provides an opportunity for local buyers to shop for next season’s products. It’s a well run business.
When I pack for TRU Show my car is always full of samples. If my wife wants to go with me to a show, she has to run alongside.
Does your wife travel with you often?
She used to travel with me. Now, she has a life of her own at home. We’ll have been married 58 years. We have 3 kids and 6 grandkids. We all got together recently to celebrate my 80th birthday with brunch at the Four Seasons in Westlake. My family is very important to me.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed in the shoe industry over the years?
The advent of the internet has added greatly to the industry. Traditional stores need to find a way to compete in the age of internet shopping.
Bare Your Soul
What is your most treasured possession?
My Freezer. I’m a fisherman. Every year I spend 10 days on a fishing boat from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. We hire a captain and cook and fish morning to night. On my last trip, I caught 10 yellow fin tuna. I came home with over 350 lbs. of filleted fish.
What is your favorite time of day?
I’m an early riser and I run every morning (from the bed to the bathroom). My favorite time of year is spring and summer where it’s light later in the day.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Jersey Boys. We belong to a movie group. So, we read the book and see the movie together.
What is your favorite word or phrase?
What is your favorite city to travel to?
Kauai, Hawaii and Carpinteria, California.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
My Son, Steven.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I love to fly.
What sound to you love?
What are you wearing on your feet?
Mephisto. I also like SAS and Johnston and Murphy.
Joe, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
When he’s not fishing the open seas, you can reach Joe and learn more about the David Tate line at (805)570-7332 or email@example.com or meet up with him at one of our next TRU Show events