When the going gets tough, many operators in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area go to Jerry Hoffman.
Hoffman, senior account executive for Premium Supply Co. in Deer Park, N.Y., and FE&S' DSR of the Month for May 2005, has a certain reputation among some customers. “When it can't be done, they call Jerry Hoffman,” he said. The reputation is deserved, he added. “I've done a lot of things to pull rabbits out of a hat in a lot of instances for people.”
Case in point: A popular cultural institution in New York recently remodeled its foodservice facilities. “This was a multi-million-dollar project,” Hoffman recalled. “Everything was brand new. I was not the dealer on this particular job, but when an aspect of the project could not be completed for some reason the customer called me and asked, Jerry, is there any way you can get this done for me?'
“I had a guy who worked all through the night that Friday night. I personally got there at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday,” he continued. “We worked and completed the project just as thousands of people began walking in the front door. There I am walking out right past the visitors, having just completed what they needed to have complete before they could open up.”
Such spur-of-the-moment resourcefulness is required to be successful, he said. “In this industry you have to be creative to solve problems for customers. That's what I pride myself on.”
A 25-year industry veteran, Hoffman comes by his craft naturally. “I think what you really need in this industry is a good mechanical background. One of the things I have a passion for, and which I do as a hobby, is build my own cars. I've also restored an antique car and entered it in the biggest car show in the world — the Antique Automobile Club of America in Hershey, Pa. — and took first place.”
Hoffman, 55, got his start in the industry with the now-defunct Superior Restaurant Equipment in New York. He worked at M. Tucker in Paterson, N.J., for 12 years before coming to Premium. He has been described by a colleague as “self-contained ... a boss, a designer, an engineer and a great salesperson. You can't categorize him in one single role.” His experience has taught him that each of those roles is crucial.
After accounting for 2004 sales of more than $2 million — 90% of it from equipment — Hoffman said he expects even greater things from himself, claiming he can add another $500,000 or more this year. “I have more staff around me to support me,” he reasoned.
Colleagues look to Hoffman to grab the bull by the horns on major projects, and he wouldn't have it any other way. “When you become involved you have to take a leadership role in these projects,” he said. “You have to be accountable for any questions that come up on equipment. And you have to be accountable in your office.”
Hoffman and his wife of six years, Bernadette, live in Bayshore, Long Island. He has two sons: Jason, 22, who is studying to be a paramedic, and Jonathan, 20, who is in school to become an automotive engineer. Stepson Chris Curth, 18, attends Stonybrook University.
“You must know your product because there is so much of it out there,” he concluded. Gaining the kind of technical know-how that he possesses just means paying attention. “When you sell any piece of equipment you should be there when it is being installed so you can see how intricate it is. You need to do that on every job. You need to make sure it goes right from the beginning to the end.”