Take 5: Patrick McGinn of IMI Agency

An in the Mix Feature Interview

By Mallory Ambrose | March 15, 2024

Patrick McGinn

Vice President of Account Management, IMI Agency

From a young age Patrick McGinn was immersed in the exciting arena of beverage and hospitality. His passion for the industry never wavered and continued to grow into adulthood, thus leading him to begin his career journey with IMI Agency in 2008.

Today, with over 16 years of experience, Patrick currently serves as IMI Agency’s Vice President of Account Management, overseeing beverage program development for a roster of industry leading clients and partners. In this in the Mix feature interview, Patrick sheds light on his professional crusade of Building Better Beverage Business™ while simultaneously navigating the incredibly ever-evolving world of beverage and hospitality.

Mallory Ambrose: Hi Patrick, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. To start, can you share a bit about your journey into the beverage and hospitality world? What inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?

Patrick McGinn: Yes, thank you for including me in this Take 5. I look at myself as being involved in the industry from a young age, I remember curiously asking my father who owns what brand at the local restaurant. From the early days of childhood through college, I always knew that I wanted to be in the hospitality world. Luckily, Larry McGinn interviewed me, and, in the Fall of 2008, I started with IMI Agency as a Project Manager working with hospitality industry leaders on training, education, menu development, data analysis, specialty events, and more.

Larry McGinn, President and Founding Partner of IMI Agency, and Patrick McGinn, pictured at IMI Agency’s 2023 B4 Summit.

MA: What are some challenges and achievements that you have experienced throughout your career? What has been your most meaningful accomplishment so far?

PM: One challenge that immediately comes to mind took place during my second year with IMI. I was asked to take on the Marriott International account working with Dan Hoffman and Lou Trope, and I was officially drinking from the fire hose. I have been able to take my learnings from this experience working alongside two great partners early on in my career with me throughout my 16-year journey of working with great teammates, clients, and partners along the way.

MA: Currently serving as the VP of Account Management for IMI Agency, what is your favorite aspect of working with clients and suppliers in the beverage sector?

PM: I love getting to work with all groups of our industry – clients, suppliers, distributors, and of course, our team at IMI. It is one large puzzle making sure we can make it a win for everyone involved. We do the due diligence to understand the needs and wants of all parties involved, and the better we do as IMI, the better it is for everyone.

Patrick recently joined ClubProcure and William Grant & Sons on an educational trip to Scotland to visit Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

MA: In a notably fast-paced industry, how do you stay adaptable and keep the team ahead of the curve? How do you balance the need for innovation with the importance of maintaining brand consistency for clients?

PM: The support of our IMI team is the most important. We are constantly analyzing data, market research, and working with our partners to learn and identify innovative opportunities. We provide our teammates with opportunities to learn specific areas of the industry that excite them, while also working on their bandwidth to deliver success to all clients.

MA: What strategies do you use to ensure client satisfaction and long-term partnerships when helping brands in Building Better Beverage Business™?

PM: We have been very lucky to foster long term partnerships with our clients as a result of the great focus we place on communication and anticipation of needs, while also continuing to strive towards their long term goals. We act as an extension of their team to drive towards success together.

Patrick McGinn, Lauren McGinn and IMI team members Jeanette Rolla and Isabel O’Cathey attending the 2023 Aspen Food & Wine Classic

Patrick McGinn and IMI team member, Evan Traub, attending the 2023 Vibe Conference.

MA: There are many revolving trends that take place amongst consumers in the on-premise beverage scene. How have you seen trends evolve over the years and how have you adapted to these changes in the industry? Are there any emerging trends that you find particularly exciting or challenging?

PM: There are many trends gaining momentum amongst consumers right now. Most importantly it is how IMI and our clients can utilize these growing trends to attract potential customers and incremental sales. We continuously have our eyes and ears open to market intelligence sources provided by our supplier, distributor, client, and industry data partners and synthesize this into actionable data.

Some of the most prominent trends continue to be brown spirits and agave spirits. The challenging aspects continue to be finding the right brands for our clientele that are at the correct price point and availability. Oh, and Espresso Martinis!

MA: Let’s get personal: What is your favorite cocktail or go-to varietal for a pre-dinner drink?

PM: For pre-dinner, I like either a Negroni/Boulevardier or a glass of bubbles.

MA: If you could create a signature IMI Agency cocktail, what would it be and why?

PM: In true IMI fashion, I would develop a cocktail that is trend focused, ‘tik-tokable’, classy, beverage cost efficient, and easy to train for the bartenders. With agave spirits being so hot, it would likely be a fun margarita riff that incorporates all of those aspects.

Adam Billings, Founder of PayBev, and Patrick McGinn pictured at IMI Agency’s 2023 B4 Summit

MA: What do you think the future of beverage and hospitality marketing will look like 10 years from now?

PM: My estimation is the world of data and technology is going to continue to impart itself into our industry. The improved data reporting will continue to paint a picture on the success of beverage programs. We will be able to use this data to continue to strengthen national partnerships with our clients, suppliers, and distributors.

MA: What are some of your favorite bars or restaurants? What sets these venues apart from others?

PM: I have too many favorites to choose just one, but I love a bar/restaurant that has a view, strong concept, well designed menu, creative beverage offerings, and if you can see the sunset, I am a happy person!

Patrick McGinn, and IMI Agency team members, Evan Traub, Cody Henson, and Heather Baker, pictured at HEE East 2023.

MA: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

PM: I would like to thank everyone for the continued partnership, friendship, and guidance over my 16 years in the industry. We work in the greatest business with the best people!

Patrick McGinn is a 16-year industry veteran straight out of the University of Iowa. He is currently Building Better Beverage Business™ as IMI’s Vice President of Account Management. Patrick works closely with IMI’s account managers, clients, and supplier partners across the F&B and hospitality industry on program development, marketing strategy and growing supplier partnerships. Patrick lives in downtown Chicago with his wife, Lauren, and his mini goldendoodle Finnegan. Patrick has been a strong proponent of CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) since its inception. When he’s not working on beverage related projects, you will find him walking Finnegan or teeing it up at a golf course.