Ron Frieson toasted retirement, not with a glass of wine, but with an entire wine store–his own. Frieson (Knoxville ’81) took early retirement from his position as president of BellSouth Operations in Georgia, and he and his wife opened WineStyles Cascade in southwest Atlanta last fall. “My wife and I developed a plan for retirement, which we call ‘Phase Two’ of our lives,” Frieson says. The couple planned several entrepreneurial pursuits that leverage the skills they acquired during their corporate careers and take advantage of their relatively youthful energy. Frieson is just 48 years old.
He says retirement isn’t a function of age, but rather “a function of preparedness. My wife and I set some financial goals, which in turn set the stage for Phase Two.”
Frieson wasn’t dissatisfied with his BellSouth position. Far from it. “I loved my former role in that I had responsibility for representing more than eighteen-thousand employees and was the key policymaker and spokesperson for issues impacting our company in the state.”
The Friesons aren’t absentee owners of WineStyles Cascade. “Both of us are very active in the day to day activities of the store, says Frieson. “My wife serves as the store manager, and I’m the head wine taster!”
Frieson says he’s researching two other retail ventures. “Our plan is going better than expected,” he says. “I’m busier than ever, but it’s a good busy.”
Speaking from his personal experience, Frieson offers this advice to potential retirees: “Having a well-defined plan and actionable items to achieve the plan is crucial to enjoying Phase Two. I believe Phase Two comes for everybody, but the real question is, Is this the Phase Two you have dreamed of, or is it the Phase Two that has been thrust upon you? I prefer the one that I have dreamed of!”