Bill Hoffman Jr.’s business career began in 1956 at Hoffman International Inc. in Piscataway, N.J.
William A. Hoffman Jr. passed away on Feb. 11, following a brief illness.
Mr. Hoffman was born in Newark, N.J., in 1929, lived in Upper Montclair for 40 years and moved to Madison in 2002. Following graduation from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, he earned a Bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University, a Master’s degree from Columbia University and an MBA from New York University. Mr. Hoffman was a member of Phi Kappa Theta social fraternity and Alpha Kappa Psi business professional fraternity.
Mr. Hoffman’s business career began in 1956 at Hoffman International Inc. in Piscataway, N.J. Hoffman International was founded by his father in 1920 and is a distributor of heavy construction equipment in both the Mid-Atlantic and international markets. He retired in 2002 as president and chairman of the company. Throughout his career, Mr. Hoffman was an officer of many local and national trade organizations as well as a lecturer in business administration at both Upsala College and Montclair State University. Notably, he served on the board of directors of the Specialized Carriers and Riggers Association (SCRA) in the mid 1960s, and ultimately served as chairman of the board in 1967-68. Mr. Hoffman served as a naval officer in the Korean War both in Korea and on the USS Sarasota and the USS Terribone.
Tim Watters, president of Hoffman Equipment and nephew of Bill Hoffman, remembered his uncle as a serious, honest and principled businessman.
“Bill [Hoffman] had a very professional demeanor in everything he did,” Watters said. “At the office he was always in a suit and tie … unique, especially given that it’s a work boot and jeans industry.”
“He was a tremendously principled man,” he added. “You never had to worry about having a handshake deal with Bill. He would always do what was right, whether it was with customers, competitors, employees, banks, everybody. He would never try to get one over on you for a couple of bucks.”
But as focused and passionate a man as he was in business, Mr. Hoffman had a softer side to him, as well.
“He was a warm, kind man after you met him a few times,” Watters said. “And once you got to know him, you’d see how genuine he was. He developed very strong relationships with people. He also had a very, very dry sense of humor, very quick-witted. You had to be thinking around him and be on your toes. Everyone really loved Bill.”
Mr. Hoffman significantly impacted the construction industry in which he served, said Watters. “All his peers — competitors and customers — have a deep respect for Bill. They all recognized that he was as straight-forward a person as they were going to meet and know.”
Later in his life, when Mr. Hoffman retired in 2002, Watters said that he would still come into the office every Wednesday for a half day. He’d bring in the Wall Street Journal and cut out articles he thought were important for the business, leaving them on people’s desks with little notes saying he’d thought they’d be of interest to them.
Mr. Hoffman’s business acumen and philosophy has been handed down to Watters, who recalled, “I saw in him that even in the worst of times, recessions, and so on, that it is even more important in those times to remain committed to your values and who you are. That’s what I’ll remember most about Bill.”
He is survived by his sister, Elizabeth H. Bartow, and her husband J. Raymond Bartow, his three nieces Beth Bartow, Susan Bartow Brown (Chris), and Muffie Bartow Roelke (Jason) and nephew Jeb Bartow (Janet) and 10 grand nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the Market Street Mission, 9 Market Street, Morristown, NJ or St. Benedict’s Prep, 520 MLK Boulevard, Newark, NJ.
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