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Congratulations on 100 years.
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Project to Project. Community to Community. Generation to Generation. Congratulations to Hoffman Equipment, Inc. on 100 years in business. Together, we see a tomorrow where the tools and processes used to build our world are more intelligent, more connected and safer than ever before. And where gains in the power, efficiency and uptime of our equipment drive our customersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work to new heights. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to your past and to your future. We look forward to many more years of partnership.
Hoffman Equipment — a Century Old Business With Another 100 Years on Its Mind
It was an interesting year, 1920. Woodrow Wilson was president. Prohibition began. The League of Nations was established. Pancho Villa surrendered in Mexico, U.S. women officially won the right to vote and funding for the construction of a new tunnel into New York City was approved that we know today as the Holland Tunnel. An interesting year, indeed. Oh, and there was another significant event: William and Harry Hoffman started a roofing business in Belleville, N.Y. One hundred years later, the Hoffman company is thriving, having passed through a century of change inside and outside the firm. It begins its second hundred years under the banner of Hoffman Equipment, the widely recognized distributor in the Northeast United States of leading brands of construction equipment. Could the venerable company possibly survive for another 100 years, withstanding the gales of change that periodically blow across the business world? Company CEO and President Tim Watters is convinced that it will. “I’d bet the whole enchilada on it,” he asserted **
When the brothers Hoffman shed their U.S. Marine Corps uniforms at the end of World War I and looked for work, they soon decided their future lay in roofing homes and businesses in and around Belleville, N.J. What separated their little roofing enter-
prise from competing outfits was that they hauled their shingles in a pickup truck. It probably was a light delivery model, a Chevrolet perhaps, which was no more than a car chassis with beefed-up rear springs. The little truck was hardly a major transport vehicle, in other words, but it was quicker and a more convenient hauler than the horse-drawn wagons of other roofers, who soon started asking the brothers to carry their shingles to job sites, too. Thus did the Hoffman enterprise take its first detour, giving up shingling in favor of trucking. A pattern of changing with the times had begun. In the second year of commercial hauling, the brothers bought a second truck. Watters recalled a story about those early days when Harry Hoffman, his grandfather, conspired with brother, William, to keep both trucks hauling “Whatever licensing was involved then, they had two trucks but only one set of plates. They ended up putting one plate on one truck and one on the other. Or something.” This is called ingenuity. It also is called risk-taking, a characteristic evident in decision-making throughout the company’s history. The thrust of the company’s focus has zigged and zagged through the years, its product line and services changing as needed, usually in anticipation of a foreboding shift in future business activity. The word for that is visionary, the ability to foresee the implications of coming changes and adjusting accordingly.
Bill Hoffman, son of founder William (Winks) Hoffman, at his desk in Piscataway in 1995.
Joe Watters, along with Bill Hoffman, managed the company from 1978 through 2002. Watters led the company’s export group and led successful placements of U.S.-built equipment to Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, China, Africa, Italy and the Netherlands!
This is why Hoffman Motor Transport shifted gears in 1935, midway through the Depression. After the brothers began losing key accounts during that doleful economic period, they sold their fleet of 35 freight delivery trucks and bought several large tractor-trailer rigs for hauling oversized industrial components. They found success there. When Harry Hoffman subsequently was exposed to handling of heavy equipment during service in World War II, he returned home advocating another shift — adding the service of heavy and specialized rigging, the safe lifting of overHoffman’s current headquarters off I-287 in Piscataway, N.J., circa 1974. Hoffman purchased sized and heavy objects. Roberts Equipment in 1978 to become the Fiat Allis dealer for northern New Jersey. Over the next 15 years, Hoffman Rigging and Crane grew its equipment inventory to more than a million dollars, including 40 heavy trucks and trailers and 11 cranes, the largest a 55-ton Caterpillar model. The rigs worked up and down the East Coast with occasional forays into other states east of the Mississippi River. When William Hoffman died in 1957, Harry carried on, bringing in his son, Jim. Three years after that, William died and Jim Hoffman became full owner of the company. He led it through two decades of growth, tacking this way and that as needed. Hoffman Rigging and Crane feasted on the rising fortunes of industries and moved on when fortunes waned. An example of this was the mid-1960s when containerized ocean shipping came in vogue. Already a skilled lifting specialist, Hoffman took its experience to New Jersey’s Port Newark to serve that specialty market. It procured 200-ton and 300-ton mobile container-lifting cranes and began stevedoring for vessels (L-R): Three Hoffman generations: Harry “Jim” Hoffman, Tim Watters and Joe Watters tour a bridge job from a customer’s work boat.
see page 8
Some of the team at the Hoffman Equipment headquarters in Piscataway, N.J., pose for a picture with Tim Watters (top right), president.
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Seen here is the Lionville, Pa., branch. This facility was built in 1964 by the Road Machinery Company, a Michigan loader dealer. The Michigan and Euclid Co.’s were purchased by Volvo in the mid ‘80s. Road Machinery was purchased by Shelton Witt Company, which sold to Strongco, which was then sold to LB Smith Co. Later, Volvo and sold this company to Flagler Machinery as Penn-Jersey. Now, finally, Hoffman is proud to service Pa. contractors from this historic facility!
docking there. While that segment of Hoffman’s business bloomed, it fairly quickly dried up when stationary cranes became the preferred offloading and loading standard. So, Jim Hoffman cast his eyes toward another burgeoning industry — nuclear power plant construction. Hoffman rigs geared up and worked on a slew of the facilities then being built, hauling the plants’ huge generators, reactor hardware and other components to construction sites and lifting them into place. When that industry began to slow down — before virtually stopping in 1979 after a reactor at a Pennsylvania plant partially melted down — the company fortuitously changed direction once more. from page 5
Circa 1974. Hoffman’s 500-ton derrick Century loads a 150-ton steam generator at the ConEd gen station in Queens, N.Y., onto Talbert dollies (700-ton capacity). At the time, the Century was one of the largest derricks in the world, and with her and two smaller derricks,Hoffman handled all heavy lifts for the NY Port Authority throughout the early ’70s.
Jim Hoffman retired at that time and Joe Watters and Bill Hoffman — co-founder William Hoffman’s son — purchased the company. Looking for a fresh start, the new owners took the company completely out of
Hoffman Equipment’s Marlboro, N.Y., facility carries Case, LeeBoy and Doosan Portable Power machines. This is the original location of the RC Herman Company, acquired by Hoffman in 2008.
trucking and rigging, buying a FiatAllis and P&H crane dealership and becoming Hoffman Equipment. This breathtaking departure from the company’s heritage may have been the firm’s ultimate risk-taking. To say it’s worked out is an understatement. The trucking company of 70 years ago doing $400,000 in The Hoffman Equipment team in Deptford, N.J. Hoffman acquired this branch with the purchase business volume annually has of Penn-Jersey — it has been a Volvo location since 1972. grown to a consortium of dealerships doing $140 million in business in 2019. Changing and growing seems to be in the DNA. Asked if he inherited the Hoffman risk-taking gene, Tim Watters conceded that may be the case. “Probably, probably. We bought a company a little over a year ago that actually was bigger than we were,” he said, referring to the acquisition of a series of Volvo construction equipment dealerships and marketing territories. “I think I sweated it some.” The question is, has Hoffman Equipment finished with its evolu- Circa 1952. Hoffman erects a long highway girder across railroad tracks in Hoboken, N.J. In the tion? Watters isn’t so sure. foreground is a Manitowoc model 3900 and behind it is a P&H Model 955 (80-ton capacity). The “If you had asked my grandfather contractor is Klockner Iron Works and William Hoffman Sr. is near the crane, with hands on hip.
in 1959 if the company was going to evolve further, he probably would have said ‘no.’ Today, I don’t see it evolving into something else, but I wouldn’t say it won’t. No one knows what the future will bring.”
The Hoffman Equipment team in Medford, N.Y. Third from the left is Dennis Brophy, a Hoffman employee since 1987.
Circa 1974. The Hoffman Century loads out a 300-ton vessel onto Hoffman’s 1,000 hp. Mack tractor with 600ton Talbert trailer on the barge. In the background is the World Trade Center as the Q E II glides past on the Hudson River. Circa 1971. A Hoffman 600-ton Talbert trailer and Mack truck is seen at work at Plymouth Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Mass.
Employees of the Bronx, N.Y., branch pose in front of their building on Zerega Ave.
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LeeBoy salutes our friends and partners at Hoffman Equipment in celebrating this historical milestone.
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For 100 Years, One Constant Remains for Hoffman … Cranes
Hoffman President Tim Watters and N.Y. Crane Specialist Pat Tomasetti deliver a new MLC 300 to Tappan Zee Constructors on the Mario Cuomo Bridge.
For four generations in the world of business, the name Hoffman has been about moving. Moving freight. Moving heavy and oversized equipment. Moving shipping containers. Moving dirt. The moving equipment has varied from small and large trucks to specialized rigging equipment to excavators. Through most of the company’s 100 years, however, one particular mover has been constant — the crane.
A Grove GMK 3050B at work performing maintenance to a cell tower in North Salem, N.Y.
“It is a very important part of our company makeup,” said Mike Anderson, Hoffman Equipment vice president and New York general manager. The 18-year Hoffman veteran oversees crane sales. see page 16
A Manitowoc 16000 near the Goethal’s bridge. Machines have become very technologically advanced, and so have Hoffman’s technicians. In many cases, Hoffman has replaced the big service trucks of old with ‘smart equipped’ vans to keep your digital machines up and running.
A barge-mounted Manitowoc 4100 ringer ‘flies in’ an MLC 300 onto the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge. The MLC 300, a 330 ton crane, out-picks competitive cranes rated at more than 600 tons with its patented variable position counterweight and VPC Max attachment.
The MLC150-1 weighs 165 tons and raises a boom that’s 256 ft. long and can be fitted with an 80-ft.-long fixed jib. Such lumbering lifters dominate any job site they work. National Crane and Grove are relative babies — both dating back only 75 years or so — but are the leaders in their respective fields. National’s truck-mounted hydraulic cranes are the standard for the industry. Grove manufactures signature multi-axled telescopic boom mobile cranes — including all-terrain and rough-terrain and truck models. Hoffman Equipment offers the full Manitowoc line at each of the company’s seven locations in New York, New Jersey and
“Cranes are a very significant part of our business and that won’t be changing,” he said. The company represents three brands of cranes that are generally recognized as the best in the business. Manitowoc crawler cranes is a principal one, not only because of its place in crane history, but also as the flagship for the Manitowoc Company group of cranes that also includes National and Grove. Manitowoc’s company history is almost as long as Hoffman Equipment’s. Its massive lattice boom crawler cranes are iconic machines. A model being launched this spring is a good example: from page 14
A Manitowoc MLC 300 at work on the RT 72 bridge in Ocean County, N.J.
A new Manitowoc 11000 crawler being delivered at a job site in Ulster County to replace a Highway 209 bridge over Rondout Creek in Accord, N.Y.. A Grove RT 650 is in the background.
A Manitowoc 777 at work on the Staten Island Ferry Terminal off West Side Highway in Manhattan, circa 2004.
Pennsylvania. The crane company’s products have been a staple offering at Hoffman for years and will remain a dominant one in the new equipment lineup that now also features Volvo machinery. Anderson said the general trend in the crane market is toward larger machines. “RTs and boom trucks are trending bigger and higher capacity. It used to be that 35 or 50-ton rigs were the norm, now it’s 80-tonners and up. They’re putting bigger capacity onto small platforms. The footprint of a 80-ton crane is a not lot bigger than a 50-ton crane used to be,” Anderson said. The company has a fleet of rental cranes, mostly RTs and crawlers, but most of its sales are new inventory that are sold outright. Anderson said the company generally prefers not to compete with its loyal crane customers by renting to competitors especially short-term daily and weekly rentals. Their crane customers are in the business of lifting and moving materials and heavy objects. Hoffman is in the business of supplying them with the equipment to do so. In the New York region over which he presides, Anderson has eight salespeople whose work is overseen by a crane specialist. “The way we work it is to have one specialist who works with the salesmen for each type of specialty product,” he said. “A specialist for cranes, a specialist for crushing and screening, a specialist for scrap and portable power.” Construction equipment — in New York that means Case, JCB and now Volvo — is more generally marketed. Case has been the biggest seller because it has been in the Hoffman Equipment lineup since 2007, but Anderson foresees the Volvo line as a great complement his crane products. Besides selling cranes, Hoffman Equipment trains operators
how to safely operate them. Some 200 people complete a weeklong training course each year at the center in Piscataway, N.J. Their reward is official recognition by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. Worn-out cranes are given new life by Hoffman, too, at a rebuild center in Piscataway. Crawler lattice cranes and some allterrain models are painstakingly restored at the center, with some of the do-overs taking six months to complete. The machines are stripped to the frame and repainted, their systems rebuilt and engines retrofitted to meet emissions standards. The expansive Hoffman Equipment crane story is an ongoing success. Anderson attributes it to a “big family” working environment, a good work ethic and salespeople he said he would “put up against any other dealer’s salespeople any day of the week.” The rest of the story, he said, is about company President Tim Watters. “He does a great job of looking for opportunities, has taken big chances and surrounds himself with good managers and staff.” The result of all this teamwork? Annual equipment sales volume — including cranes — in the 18 years Anderson has been at Hoffman has risen from $12 million in 2002 to nearly $100 million in 2019.
Hoffman Boasts Wide Array of Quality Equipment Lines Not to be overlooked in the shadow of the towering Manitowoc cranes and the expansive Volvo lineup are other product lines at Hoffman Equipment. They are instrumental to the machinery supplier’s future growth. Erik Seikel, a 24-year veteran at Hoffman, is responsible for promoting the complete company portfolio of equipment. As
director of sales and marketing, Seikel has a pretty good notion of what’s required to move machinery. Even so, the dynamics of Hoffman sales changed in late 2018. That was when Hoffman Equipment acquired Penn-Jersey Machinery dealerships and territories for Volvo construction equipment and some other equipment lines. The acquisition not only altered the company’s balance sheets moving forward, it changed some of the marketing chemistry in Hoffman’s mix of leading equipment brands. “We will focus on Volvo as a leader now and bring along the other products at the same time by highlighting different features and models in different months,” Seikel said. He cited the unique JCB teleskid, which combines a skid steer and a telehandler. “It’s very innovative and we’ve been quite successful in using that to sell the JCB product.” Hoffman Equipment offerings are enriched by the presence of JCB, the British manufacturer that has crafted a reputation for innovaA Case excavator is delivered to a customer in Long Island, N.Y. Hoffman, from its three tive machinery — of many kinds and sizes. New York locations, has been the Case dealer in the state since 2004. Consider the array of compact and mid-sized Along with the Volvo line came entry to the paving business. Hoffman acquired expert paving technicians along with parts and sales expertise with its purchase of Penn-Jersey.. Here, a new Volvo paver (note the Blaw Knox heritage) is delivered to a customer in Northern N.J.
Astec Industries’ KPI/JCI line of crushers and screeners are renowned as the best in the industry … and U.S.-made, as well. Hoffman finds this line to be a great complement to its Volvo products, and this picture shows why! This package of machines is hard at work in central N.J.
machines wearing a JCB badge: skid steers, backhoes, excavators, telehandlers, compactors, loaders, dumpers, forklifts and numerous attachments. Case construction equipment is the company’s longest-running machinery line. It’s the top-seller in New York State after 13 years in the Hoffman stable of products. Another Hoffman offering is the KPI-JCI/Astec line of aggregate-processing equipment, which is a leader of the crushing-screening-conveying industry. Related product lines are the Epiroc and NPK excavator attachments for crushing rock and handling demolition debris and Fuchs scrap material-handling cranes. Nearly as diverse in their offerings are the LeeBoy/Rosco road construction machines available at Hoffman Equipment. The asphalt highway machinery includes pavers, compactors, brooms, spray and tank trucks, spreaders, loaders, motor graders and carriers. Doosan Portable Power and lighting units constitute a sizeable component of Hoffman Equipment sales and Oshkosh snowplow and spreader units are popular with airport managers tasked with keeping runways and aprons clear of snow. Seikel acknowledged that Volvo was “a great step forward toward further growth,” but the marketing director is keen on the other product lines under the Hoffman banner. “There is great growth potential in our KPI-JCI-Astec group — we now offer the best damn crusher and screener product in the industry!” Equipment sales neared $100 million in 2019 and company budgeters foresee total sales across the equipment lines surpassing that amount in 2020. The machines’ wide appeal also translate into used machinery sales and, of course, rentals, the alternative acquisition method that’s mushroomed in the United States over the past two decades.
Hoffman Equipment rentals include a spectrum of machine types, from crawler excavators to industrial cranes to portable power units to grapples and on and on. Company President Tim Watters doesn’t see rental activity easing up any time soon. “I think it’s going to stay this way forever,” he said, partly because it often is in the best interests of manufacturers and contractors to rent. “It would be easier for us and require less investment to just sell equipment and avoid renting … in renting, the risk of ownership is shifted to the dealer. If the rental market didn’t exist, contractors would retain all the risk of ownership. Manufacturers have always done pretty good job of keeping risk from themselves. No, I don’t see it ever changing.” However, Watters quickly noted, renting out equipment has become much more than an aggravation. “Rentals have shifted risk and costs to dealers like Hoffman Equipment and while we must accept that burden, there are also great opportunities associated with rentals.” Moving all these brands of equipment off Hoffman’s lots is Seikel’s job. To help him, he has 35 people in sales and various marketing positions. They know what they’re doing, having worked at it for decades. “We have a couple guys who have been here 25-plus years and many with more than 10 years. And from the acquisition, we inherited some very mature and educated sales professionals and most importantly, we work well together.” The job is made easier, Seikel added, by the stature of the dealership itself. “Hoffman Equipment is recognized for its ability to deliver, its longevity, its everyday performance. The company name provides a sturdy foundation for any product we’re marketing.”
A Milestone Acquisition “Hoffman Equipment is proud to announce that we have been named the Volvo Construction Equipment dealer serving the NY/NJ/PA metro area.”
The foregoing sentence headlines the Hoffman Equipment website more than a year after the acquisition was finalized, which tells you all you need to know about the importance of the deal to the 100-year-old company. And to think it nearly didn’t happen Hoffman CEO and President Tim Watters recalled the dealmaking. “I tried to buy it (Penn-Jersey Machinery) about a year earlier, but someone else made a better offer. I admit I moaned and groaned a bit when the other company got it, but I knew that company couldn’t really afford to buy it at that number. It took awhile, but when they finally realized the numbers wouldn’t work, that deal went south and we leaped in … though I’m oversimplifying things a lot.” And just like that — not to oversimplify things — Penn-Jersey Machinery’s Volvo three locations in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey and accompanying territorial rights in New York State became part of Hoffman Equipment. Watters said the ensuing transition of people, machinery and accounting nuts and bolts went smoothly. His CFO, Erick Shumaker, agreed. The chief financial officer formerly worked at North Carolina’s Cone Mills, then the world leader in denim-making, at a time when the U.S. textile industry was consolidating before imploding from the pressure of cheap foreign labor. Consequently, Shumaker is fully familiar with the potential for helter-skelter when two companies’ operations are merged. In this instance, it was avoided. “When we started up a few days after closing the transaction for Penn-Jersey, we were up and running and I was able to do a financial report,” he said. “There were a few errors, but we figured out what they were and plowed through it. We needed to be able see page 26
In September 2019, top Volvo management flew in from Sweden to congratulate its newest dealer, Hoffman Equipment. Tim Watters shakes hands with Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt and Volvo CE President Melker Jernberg. Others in photo are Jan Ohisson, executive vice president, Volvo Trucks; Helena Landbergsson, executive assistant; Diana Niu, executive vice president, human resources; Tomas Kuta, senior vice president, Volvo CE; Stephen Roy, president, Volvo CE Americas; Ryan Sherwood, vice president, retail development; and Patrick Wakefield, director, retail development.
A quarry in Pa. thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thrilled to have Hoffman as its new dealer is using an L260 to load an A45 articulated truck.
Hoffman shows off its new Volvo flag along with Old Glory from its corporate hedaquarters in Piscataway, N.J. This partnership between Volvo and Hoffman will ensure success for both companies through their next 100 years!
Compliments to Hoffman Equipment on their 100th Anniversary From the people at
Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc. Building Quality for Over 75 Years 969 Midland Avenue Â&#x2122; Yonkers, NY 10704 Tel 914.965.1500 www.yonkerscontractingco.com
Carl E. Petrillo Chairman 24
CELEBRATING A LEGACY OF LOYAL CUSTOMERS AND DEDICATED EMPLOYEES Congratulations Hoffman Equipment, Inc. on 100 years of providing reliable equipment and performance customers can count on— from all of us at CASE Construction Equipment.
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There are three iconic brands in this photo: one, is a retail giant founded in 1893, but a struggling one now as it tries to find its way in our new economy; two, is Hoffman Equipment as it celebrates its 100th year of success; and three is Volvo, which will celebrate its 100 birthday in 2027. Here, a Volvo long-reach is placing some pumping gear in a deep excavation in front of the Sears facility.
ailing machines to Hoffman technicians. “If asked, I think a customer typically would say we are a good company to deal with, a company with integrity, fair, and putting the needs of customers at the forefront of what we are trying to do here,” he said. “They like our people and, I think, generally like me and enjoy doing business with us.” As the Penn-Jersey transaction recedes from view, Hoffman Equipment moves ahead invigorated by the acquisition and bolstered by a growing economy. Watters feels both currents pulling the company ahead. “It’s a nice environment for us and everyone else. Our progress right now is a consequence of what we are doing and the economy is doing. It’s more than just a good economy. It’s us doing what we’re doing, too.” Note that it’s what the company is “doing,” not “done.” Hoffman Equipment management is showing no signs of resting on its laurels. While the president said he doesn’t have another acquisition in the works, “I guess I’m not done taking risks. I have some pretty strong ideas.” One of those ideas is that doing nothing does not well-serve Hoffman Equipment. “There’s risk in status quo,” said the president. “I might argue there is more risk in status quo than there is in change. There’s more risk in standing pat than in actively changing and growing and anticipating where the market will go. That’s the reason we’re doing just that.”
to do that, we needed to be able to keep on running.” The size of the financial management task he faced in the deal is suggested by the fact that inventory, sales, office locations and number of employees all nearly doubled in one swoop. Now fully transitioned, Hoffman is the authorized dealer for Volvo Construction Equipment at six of seven dealership locations, giving the company a new advantage as it competes against other dealers in the Northeast. The situation is a win-win, as Hoffman Equipment’s takeover of the former dealership is proving a boon for Volvo customers, too. “From what I hear, it’s going great for our new Penn Jersey customers,” he said. “Our studies show their satisfaction is significantly higher now than before. And why not? They’ve been given an immediate increase in parts availability — a 400 percent increase across all the branches — and we’ve doubled the number of technicians available to work on their machines, all being managed by a management team that is local and a known player within this market. The changeover has generally been a really good experience for the Volvo owner.” Such customer enthusiasm and confidence is a great asset for a company. It can’t be bottled or cashed out, but it smooths bumps in the road and greases sticky situations. It’s a priceless asset. Watters believes Hoffman Equipment generally is esteemed by the people who buy and rent equipment from it and entrust their from page 22
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Maintaining Relationships Through Excellent Parts and Service
The relationship of equipment owner and equipment dealer can be vexing. That’s because buying or fixing equipment sometimes is tense, with money at stake and a work schedule to maintain. Here’s how Hoffman Equipment maintains the relationship: The customer always is right, or at least feels satisfaction with the outcome of a transaction. “At the end of the day, if a customer doesn’t feel like we are on the same page, we are not doing our job,” said Patrick Hitpas, director of customer support. “My first priority is to develop our people and surround them with systems that enable us to exceed our customers’ expectations. But while we’re good, we are human, too, so when we make a mistake we try hard to rectify the situation and explain to the customer why things may have happened as they have. My biggest job in product support is ensuring customer satisfaction.” Hitpas has worked at this critical job for eight years, half of his tenure at Hoffman Equipment. His responsibility is sweeping: He oversees everything surrounding a piece of equipment after it has been sold, including warranty, service and parts. To
that end, he manages every aspect of Hoffman’s parts and service departments. The number of technicians under his watch doubled in 2018 with the acquisition of Volvo dealerships in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Now nearly 65 techs are scattered among Hoffman’s seven locations, part of a company work force numbering about 150 people. By and large, it is an experienced technical crew, with numerous Volvo dealership techs complementing many long-time Hoffman employees. Technicians work in the shops at each location as well as in the field from Hoffman’s fleet of more than 50 service vehicles. The operations manager at each of the company’s seven locations reports to Hitpas. He’s a sympathetic supervisor. As a former parts manager himself at Hoffman, Hitpas knows the stress of meeting the needs of customers at their level. “It’s not an easy job to be an operations manager,” he said. “It’s a tough job. When I was in the parts department, it was easy to feel like you can never do a good job … customers are very demanding and you feel really bad when you screw something up. It’s kind of thankless, but we have a lot of really good people
Hoffman maintains a fleet of more than 50 service vehicles to ensure customer’s uptime. Seen here, four of these vehicles sit, ready-to-go when and where they are needed.
that work hard at it every day.” challengs for us. When the sensors don’t like what they’re seeing, Who is the stereotypical Hoffman customer? Hitpas said it a machine won’t operate, and customers become frustrated.” would be a large regional contractor with assorted pieces of heavy Emissions-related components constitute a healthy percentage equipment. But in the customer mix as well are government main- of Hoffman Equipment’s $4.5 million parts inventory — that’s tenance departments, utility companies, multinational companies more than 150,000 parts. Hitpas said the company literally like Waste Management and the world’s largest electronics and goes extra miles to get a part of any kind to a customer whose metal recycler, Sims Metal Management. Landscapers and underground utility contractors are steady buyers of midsize JCB and Case machinery. The Volvo line of excavators, haul trucks and wheel loaders has added to the customer base. He was asked if, among the wide-ranging customers, one type is more demanding than another. “None of them are hard to deal with, but big corporate customers, national accounts, get a lot of attention,” he said. “They have many machines and expect us to work very closely with them to keep them running. They rely on us and we on them.” Hitpas believes the biggest challenge for service and parts departments across the industry, including Hoffman Equipment, stems from Tier IV emissions regulations. The mandated devices and diesel engine modifications may have reduced environmental concerns, but they generate extra headaches in maintenance shops. “Tier IV put a lot of stress on manufacturers and customers,” he said. “The technology is new and all the sensitive sensors and monitors create significant A Hoffman technician “doing his thing” on a JCB backhoe. Hoffman is long known to offer the best crane support in the NY/NJ/PA region. Whether parts or service or crawler cranes or hydraulics, as this photo shows, Hoffman technicians are here for you.
equipment suddenly is idled on a job site. This sometimes means throwing a needed part in a car and driving to a distant work site instead of waiting for a regularly scheduled commercial delivery. “One vendor needed a part fast and I remember we rented a U-Haul truck to carry it from Ohio to Missouri to get him running,” he recalled. “If a part isn’t available and a customer is two hours away, we try our best not to say, ‘The best we can do is tomorrow.’ We try to think of every outside-the-box option to make something happen TODAY.” **
One of his partners in serving customers is Kathy Gould, Hoffman’s crane service manager. She joined the company in 2003 as a service office manager and warranty admin- Although Volvo service checkpoints are among the easiest to access in the industry, you still need to istrator. Now she deals directly with climb a bit on these bigger machines. Here, a Hoffman technician services an L180 7-cu.-yd. loader. crane customers — scheduling technicians, monitoring the work, following up with equipment owners, fielding calls from customers. A counterpart at Hoffman mirrors her responsibilities in dealing with earthmoving clients. The division of responsibility for cranes and earthmoving occurred after Hoffman acquired the Volvo line. Gould credits her success in the taxing job to an ability to communicate clearly with customers who, she noted, “are calling because they have a problem. We do our best to keep them calm and get someone out to them as soon as possible. I communicate to the techs what is expected of them and make sure they have all Hoffman became a Certified Manitowoc Encore Rebuild Center in 2009. Seen here is a Manitowoc the information they need on the road 888 returned to like-new condition by Hoffman’s Rebuild Team. — correct addresses and contact numbers and try to load them up with Does the fact she is a woman have any moderating effect on a the parts they will need in advance. Mastering numbers does play a part in managing the job. When we have bigger orders, we usu- disgruntled caller, who most likely is male? “Some just yell anyway. Some get quieter when they realize ally do estimates, so those numbers need to be managed.” they are talking to a woman. The tone of their voice sort of She can’t recall an especially memorable encounter with a changes.” In respect to female employees, she noted that Hoffman has customer in need and how the issue was resolved. “I just try my best to make sure we get everyone’s machine always been committed to advancing the role of women in the up and running as soon as we can. All of them are primarily construction industry, noting that a few years ago, Hoffman even concerned to minimize their downtime.” see page 32
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Hoffman has some of the best welders in the region, and boom repairs of all makes and types are their specialty. Welding booms is not for the fainthearted …Hoffman’s professionals will relieve you of this stress.
All-terrain cranes are, without doubt, the most technically sophisticated and complex machines in the industry. Hoffman’s technicians receive years of training before they are allowed to perform even basic service to these machines. Here, a Hoffman crane technician looks over schematics of this Grove 4100 LB.
the top of the organization to improve industry best practices, Hoffman Equipment operates a crane operator certification program through which some 200 operators pass each year. They include employees and operators of Hoffman’s equipment customers along with other companies that utilize cranes. The program is accredited by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) where company owner Tim Watters serves on the board of directors. Hoffman’s crane heritage also led it to offer a crane-rebuilding service. Hitpas said the rebuild center in Piscataway was especially busy just prior to the arrival of the Tier IV standards when crane owners elected to upgrade their units to Tier III and put a diesel particular filter on them so they could continue to utilize the older generation of machinery on job sites. After that rush, rebuild activity fell back to a couple machines a year, usually big Manitowoc lattice crawlers or rough terrain units. Rebuilding a large crane can take up to six months, according to Hitpas, but in the end the massive machine is driven from the shop with a one-year warranty on parts and labor and usually
had some women technicians on staff, and while presently remain open to placing women at any position within the company. Gould credited co-workers with consistently doing top-notch work. “I think the team of people that we have in our department, and while I might be a little biased, I would say they are the best in the industry.” from page 28
Keeping employees on top of their game is another responsibility of Hitpas. He oversees training programs for technicians and parts personnel, both technical training and safety training. From the moment of hire, new employees begin a steady regimen of training by manufacturers as well as in-house trainers. The purpose of the investment of time and money is to raise the level of expertise and safety practices so as to enhance the customer’s experience. Because of its commitment to safety and a commitment from
see page 34
One of Hoffman’s certified welders fabricates a mounting pad for a PVE vibratory sheet driver onto a Volvo excavator. Hoffman has long been well known for its offering of all types of excavator attachments, and their technicians are expert at matching the attachment to the machine.
The technician seen here is part of Hoffman’s Encore Rebuild Team. Hoffman was certified as an Encore Rebuild Center in 2009.
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from page 32
is good for another 15,000 hours of lifting. The director of customer support is a Clemson University grad with an economics degree, but he said his work is mostly about relationships. “That’s the key. We get to know our customers and understand what they need to be successful, then we tailor our support to help them succeed. When they do, they enjoy working with us. They come to trust that we will be there for them.” He added that while he is an advocate for his customers in executive meetings, he is no greater an advocate than other department heads. Furthermore, his customer support doesn’t come at the expense of any of his colleagues at Hoffman. “I’ve never terminated an employee because of a customer complaint. We don’t hire willy-nilly and we don’t let people go that way, either. I like to introduce our employees to our customers — I feel business flows much better when the people on either side of the transaction have met and established a relationship … we will always go the extra mile to make something right, and we are extremely loyal to our employees.” To do otherwise would be self-defeating, he suggested. “Hoffman is our employees. At the end of the day, it is our employees who make us what we are.”
Hoffman Equips the World With Iron The international market for American-made heavy construction equipment was particularly strong in the 1980s and ’90s and Hoffman Equipment contributed to its strength. The company took international contacts established from its
days stevedoring in New Jersey ocean ports, paired them with relationships at domestic equipment manufacturers and forged multi-million-dollar deals in places like Colombia, Russia and Egypt. Musya Tamanyan helped grow and sustain that market for Hoffman. Hoffman’s vice president for international sales came to the company 31 years ago. She was then a multi-lingual immigrant from the USSR (specifically from Moldova, now an independent country) with an advanced degree in international trade earned in New York City. Hired by Hoffman Equipment in 1985, she immediately set her sights on foreign deal-making. One of her most recent transactions was a $45 million sale of equipment to the government of Cameroon. She is working to conclude another $83 million transaction in that same country. Prior, and over the years, she has negotiated deals in Russia — a border away from her native country — Kazakhstan, Egypt, China and numerous other nations. Throughout her time at Hoffman, global deals have accounted for about 20 percent of annual sales. But the outlook for continued success abroad is One of Hoffman’s biggest ever export deals delivered 170 pieces of cloudy. While foreign sales remain a major component equipment to the Cameroon Corps of Engineers. Here, Hoffman of Hoffman Equipment’s business plan — for example, president, Tim Watters, is being escorted to a construction site by a the company exports machinery parts to about 25 counCorps of Engineers guard detail. Note the honorary Hoffman employtries — the infrastructure of global sales has changed. ee status evidenced by their hats. see page 38
In May 1996 at N.Y. City Hall (seen here), Hoffman International was awarded the NY/NJ Exporter of the Year Award. In 2014, Hoffman was Awarded with the prestigious President’s ‘E’ Award in recognition of their contribution to increasing US exports.
“The overseas distribution structure in the ’80s and ’90s was not anywhere near what it is today,” said company President Tim Watters. “Then, it was easier for a company like us to sell American-built products overseas. Over the years, however, most manufacturers have developed their own distribution networks throughout the world, squeezing out intermediaries like ourselves. Only in Africa is there still a lack of strong distribution networks, so that remains kind of a niche market for us.” Consequently, Hoffman Equipment is placing increasing focus on domestic sales. “We’re not going to give up on global sales. In the next five to 10 years, exports will remain a nice piece of our total sales. We’re optimistic that we will do business in Africa over the next five years, maybe longer. We’re very upbeat about In March 1995, Hoffman International signs the agreement with the Road Ministry of the Russian Federation (the minister is seated in the center) to proceed with the contract to that.” There are other headwinds for global trade. sell road maintenance equipment resulting in more than $10 million (U.S.) in sales. Watters is exasperated by the inability of Congress to reliably support the Export-Import Bank. Senators are at odds over the effectiveness of the government agency. For years, senators couldn’t even agree on appointments to the tradefinance agency’s governing board, thereby limiting its function. Though the trade wars going on under the Trump administration are worrisome, Hoffman’s chief financial officer, Eric Shumaker, said so far they have had a huge impact on overseas sales. He worried some about the effect of steel tariffs on equipment prices, for example, but it proved negligible. The China-U.S. back-and-forth on trade also appears not to have influenced Hoffman’s bottom line, but the lack of an EXIM Bank has been terrible for Hoffman. It has hurt us alot.” Despite such concerns, Tumanyan continues In April 2016, Hoffman President Tim Watters and Export Vice President Musya to believe in the market for American-made Tumanyan, with Peter White and Steve Naderny of Case, Mack Trucks’ Frank Oliveira products. visit a job site in Cameroon with Corps of Engineers Project Engineer Mr. Ahmadou “I have been told what customers see in us and Dibango Mbida in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. in buying our equipment — a reliable, long-term return on their investment. They know it can be cheaper to buy equipment from other countries, but the quality is simple mantra with her students: Learn a market and listen to the people. They will tell you what they need and how you can help here, the quality of steel and the quality of the machinery.” She specifically sees an ongoing market for road maintenance them get it. Because Hoffman Equipment essentially follows that maxim, equipment, perhaps especially in the African market. “In all emerging economies, infrastructure is the key to the Tumanyan has confidence in the future of the company. She said well-being of a country’s economy. Good and safe roads and Hoffman is now and always has been comprised of good products clean water for people in rural areas. They rely on our equipment and good people who listen to customers. “I worked with Tim’s father and now with Tim. He is a good to do that.” For years, Tumanyan taught international business classes at manager with good targets that enhance our ability to compete in New Jersey’s Monmouth University. She said she stressed a the market.” from page 36