C.H. Robinson/Robinson Fresh: Eden Prairie, MN
Years in Produce:
Married; Two sons
Hobbies: Hiking; camping; fishing; boating; C.H. Robinson Foundation Grants Committee
Motto in life: Wherever you are, be there.
Work History: Hoffman is the general manager for C.H. Robinson’s largest temperature controlled transportation region. He has made significant impact on the structural, procedural and operational performance within the produce supply chain. He has been with the company since 2004 and has worked in perishables and cold chain logistics with a heavy emphasis in retail supply chain strategy in a number of different roles including: logistic service representative, capacity representative, capacity manager, account manager, key account manager, implementation manager, strategic account manager, customer group manager and general manager. He currently leads a large scale and diverse business unit with multiple service line offerings. Reporting into the Robinson Fresh division, his team works with retailers, grower/shippers, wholesalers and foodservice distributors. He is a certified supply chain professional. He also participated in the Cornell Food Executive program in Ithaca, NY in 2017. He is an active member of the C.H. Robinson Foundation as part of the Grants Committee. As part of his work with the Foundation, he was the Robinson Fresh spokesperson for supporting the opening of the North Market in a Minneapolis food dessert. He is also an advocate for Children’s Cancer Research.
Questions & Answers:
Q: How did you begin working in produce?
I found C.H. Robinson through a variety of supply chain courses at the university I attended which spent significant time educating on food logistics. I also had a like-minded friend who was interning at C.H. Robinson and exposed me to the fast-paced, team-based environment I was looking for as a catapult to my career. Earning an entry-level position provided me with both general and directed learning that built expertise and ability to contribute to broader organizational initiatives to meet customers’ growing demands. The culture that thrives today continues to attract top industry talent.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
Everyone makes mistakes; it’s best tyou learn from them. I learned that cucumbers don’t hold up well at 34° F. I could reference numerous learning opportunities from working in the fresh supply chain for more than 14 years.
Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
Fourteen years ago, our focus was to execute on some of the most inefficient fresh supply chain needs as effectively as possible. Like the rest of my peers in this industry, it is an eye opening experience to be exposed to the sheer amount of intimate knowledge required to successfully deal with the nuances of a fresh supply chain.
Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
It could not be a more exciting time to join the produce industry. The dynamics of both the retail space and the grower/shipper community are going to continue to create fantastic career opportunities for those who are able to operate, innovate and lead through change. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it.
Q: What are some of the more challenging aspects of a career in produce today?
The fresh supply chain has many additional layers of complexity than most. From temperature requirements, inherent vice of seasonal commodities, speed of replenishment and even ethylene sensitivity; it takes extensive learning and application to build sustainable solutions that create wins for all fresh supply chain partners.