Bob Kukulski recently closed a chapter in his life when he retired from a 39-year career with Foley Incorporated, the Caterpillar dealer in North Jersey, Staten Island, and Bermuda.
Kukulski’s job at Foley began on Oct. 8, 1973, when he was hired as a sales trainee. The company noted that he quickly progressed through the ranks as product support service representative, lift truck salesman and heavy general line salesman (where he served for 10 years). In 1989, he moved into sales management, working there for 11 years before being promoted to vice president of machine sales in 1993.
In late 2000, Kukulski decided to return to his true passion of selling Caterpillar equipment. At the time of his retirement, he was account manager for both Monmouth and Mercer counties, and was very well-known and respected in the industry.
“Bob’s ability to manage large accounts and the complex relationships that come with them, coupled with a tireless work ethic, have made him a true cut above the rest,” said Jeff Merle, Foley’s vice president of machine sales. “He has become a role model for young and up and coming sales people.”
Kukulski’s career began in the Marines right after high school, when he spent a tour in Vietnam. Upon his return, he earned a bachelor of science degree in business at Trenton State College (Now The College of New Jersey). His resume also includes stints as a teacher, bartender, house framer and working for E.I. DuPont. He got the interview for the job at Foley through an employment agency.
Over the span of his career, Kukulski noted that he has seen changes from pay phones to beepers to computers to smart phones.
“It still boils down to face-to-face sales with customers and building relationships, so really nothing has changed,” he said.
In the Caterpillar product line, he has seen the array from equipment dozers and loaders with tracks and wheels, hydraulic excavators (200 Series), B.C.P. machines (D3, D4, 931, and 416), the 300 series hydraulic excavators, and C.C.E. machines (compact construction).
In the industry, he noted that he saw the development of many more markets and customers because of Cat’s equipment line expansion.
“Customers are smarter and more demanding,” he noted. “There are more rentals than ever, and machines are smarter, with GPS and laser operation. Emission standards are also changing, with them now being at Tier IV.”
According to Kukulski, selling lift trucks was the most difficult position he served in.
“Once you work with the big iron, it’s in your blood,” he said.
He also had difficulty with losing deals to competitors.
“Once it’s lost, thank them for the opportunity, ask for a shot at the next deal, and stay with it,” he advised.
But Kukulski is a stellar salesperson, according to Jamie Foley, president and CEO of Foley Incorporated.
“Bob built his career on creating customers for life long before it became our corporate vision. We are a better organization for the dedication and leadership he provided this company during his long and distinguished career. We wish him all the best in this next phase of life.”
Kukulski said he is pleased to have worked for three generations of Foleys. They have included E.J. Foley Jr., E.J. Foley III (Kim), and now Jamie and Ryan Foley.
“The best part of my career was the many relationships I had with fellow employees, Caterpillar employees, and especially customers,” he said. “It gets no better than to work for Foley, visit customers [friends], and sell Caterpillar machines.”
That being said, Kukulski noted that he still plans to buy and sell used equipment for Foley on a part-time basis. But he also plans to travel, play some more golf, fish a little, and enjoy spending more time with his family and friends.
“I’d like to thank all the people that I had the opportunity to work with,” he said. “Most importantly, I want to thank the customers for their valued business and their trust in me. It truly has been remarkable and enjoyable. I would just like to thank the Foley family for 39 plus years. It was a great career. I often said that if I had to design the perfect job for myself, it would be to sell Cat machines for Foley Machinery. I lived the dream.”
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