Frank D'Angelo in financial trouble

In retrospect, it looks like the CFL's decision to not allow D'Angelo to buy a franchise for Ottawa was the right one.

The story below is from today's Toronto Star.

An Argo-Cat fan

D'Angelo's fortunes fading fast

Steelback in 'liquidity crisis' Generic drug entrepreneur Barry Sherman has gained court protection for D'Angelo Brands and Steelback Breweries in efforts to save the two former high-flying beverage companies which together owe his family firm more than $120 million.

Nov 20, 2007 04:30 AM
Jennifer Wells

`Holy s---, Jennifer, you're really beating the hell out of me. ... Will you leave me alone?"

That was Frank D'Angelo speaking – the last time we spoke, that is, when the sometime crooner turned beer impresario was singing that song about how his finances were in great shape and I was writing that his company smelled like a vast, over-leveraged, money-losing mess.

So let's just say we were not exactly struck dumb by the news that D'Angelo Brands (the juice company and such) and Steelback (the brewery enterprise) have filed for and been granted protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

We knew that D'Angelo's companies were indebted to Barry Sherman's Wasanda Enterprises Inc. to the tune of $100 million and that the debt had been collateralized by every asset Frank D'Angelo possessed, including his Forest Hill Rd. home. (The same home, by the by, that was previously inhabited by convicted fraudster Michael Holoday.)

Court filings now tell us that the total debt to Wasanda sits at $101,619,464.20 plus another 20 mil or so in accrued interest.

So there's the first non-surprise.

The second non-surprise is that the marketing and promotional costs for the beer lineup, from Copperhead ("a Bohemian style Pilsener") to Steelback Thunder (8 per cent alcohol), exceeded sales revenues.

Steelback's national ad buys on Hockey Night in Canada and D'Angelo's own admission that he planned to spend $15 million on marketing this year signalled as much. The brewery recorded a pre-tax loss of $11.6 million in its last fiscal year and a thunderous $5.9 million in the first four months of this year.

The latter number is all the more startling when you realize that the quarter ended Aug. 31, when beer sales are supposed to be at their highs. In what was, if I recall rightly, a lovely summer, it cost D'Angelo $5.4 million in sales and marketing costs to push $2.5 million worth of suds.

The cash-sucking sounds make the beer business appear to be little more than a vanity enterprise for Frank D'Angelo. But then again, the guy is a walking brand. Witness the black Corvette he would drive around town, promoting Steelback, or the bright blue '07 Toyota FJ Cruiser, promoting the Cheetah line of "power surge" drinks.

The Cheetah drinks fall under the D'Angelo Brands rubric, joining the Duh! line of old-fashioned sodas and the apple juice that made the early beginnings of the company.

In 2005 D'Angelo Brands lost more than $10 million. In 2006 it lost close to $14 million. The loss for the first four months of this year: $8.1 million. And here we were thinking that the juice side of the operation provided ballast for that nutty beer idea.

A mere three weeks ago, when Barry Sherman installed his son, Jonathon, in the chief executive's chair of both companies, D'Angelo made the transfer of power sound like a dream come true.

"This was a decision that I made," he said at the time. "It puts money in my designer pants, I just want to emphasize that."

I asked him whether the sexual assault charge he faces had anything to do with his departure. He said it absolutely did not. (The case is scheduled to be heard in June.)

He professed contentment with the corporate state of affairs. "I met a guy like Barry Sherman. I got a chance to create from zero, from nothing, an idea, right? A catalogue of beers that are selling across Canada. You don't know what that does for me."

Oh sure we do. What it did was feed Frank D'Angelo's ego.

I know D'Angelo is an idiot, but isn't Sherman the bigger idiot for giving D'Angelo all that cash?

This looks so good on that goof! Sorry folks. But as a fan of the Ontario craft brewing industry, this guy was a complete joke.
Steelback also sponsors (sponsered?) the Argo tailgate parties.
Bu-bye, Frank.

The CFL Did the Right Thing Saying no to him

I always thought it was bizarre how much of an advertising presence they were making with all of the event sponsorships and TV ad time, considering I had never personally witnessed anyone actually put one of his beers to their lips.

Something tells me Franky is going to end up in a lot of business school textbooks as the perfect "what not to do" example.

And as the man who brought us the Ben Johnson "Cheetah" ads, I have to say...."good on ya, Frank!!"

Imagine, the CFL saying no to him and Paul Godfrey who had something in the promotions part of the Toronto Grand Prix saying yes. Hmmm, interesting, who would have thought. Now tell me who was more desperate.

I witnessed Phil Esposito put one to his lips in a commercial…does that count?

Frank D is an interesting guy.
I am sure he will land on his feet!

  1. No, that does NOT count. Phil Esposito was being PAID to put one to his lips. Pay me and I'd drink it (price negotiable).

  2. Interesting? In the sense that self-promoters whose entire life seems to revolve around yelling "Look at me!! Look at me!!" can be interesting in a negative sort of way, I suppose so.

  3. Looking at the financial numbers as published, I every much doubt that he will 'land on his feet'.

Frank is a "pantload" ... let's hope this is the beginning of the end for those annoying commercials.

I hope it is the end of his terriable tv ads!They are the worst and most annoying to watch!I guess no one wants to hang around with him now!lol :wink: :wink:

Those Ben Johnson ads for Cheetah drinks were pathetic.

An Argo-Cat fan

Just be careful what you say.

D'Angelo is suing some guy in Ottawa for saying nasty things about him on his internet blog.

Frankie, Frankie, you gotta love him in a way though, so, um, I don't know, just one of those characters that make you want to laugh at, but in sort of a good way I think. Not in a mean way. And hey, that Blue Thunder beer at 8 percent does give you a jolt, a couple of those do the trick I'll tell you.

I was thinking the very same thing. lol.

What qualifies as "nasty" on the internet these days? I'm afraid to ask.....

It appears that Tom Wright made the right call on Frankie's Ottawa bid.

Maybe the same things that were said about Celine Dion that prompted her to cancel her concert in Halifax...

Earl: I don't know about you, but it would take a few more than "a couple" Blue Thunders to knock me on my padded posterior...

I also find it funny that "cash-****" was censored on this website...

so am I the only one here that has actually tried steelback?..

one night in college me and the guys were getting together at a friends house to pre-drink while watching the hockey, so i stopped into the LCBO and said why not.

The woman at the counter found it odd that the case was so light....the bottles are plastic bottles, so no return on the empties. At the house, a friend of mine laughed when I pulled it out of the bag, i also couldn't help but the end it's not worth the 2$ you'll save on a 6-pack of blue or canadian or bud...the aftertaste is atrocious.

Me thinks, Francis has been a legend in his own mind for awhile. Me also thinks his convincing strategies left much to be desired. He hired the wrong marketing firm, that's for sure. (If he even did hire anyone).

Too bad about Frank and everything. I think Steelback brews great beer. Actually, I think Copperhead is one of the best of the best. Tried some of the others in the line up but I won't get into it because I'm not writing this to sell the guys beer. Ok?
The point is, we've lost our major suds makers to foreign companies and if Frank's beer experiment goes down, what's left except for regional and micro breweries.