Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Hoffman headed off to the University of Akron after high school in his quest to become an engineer. He worked the overnight shift at an aluminum company while going to school full time to earn his degree and graduate in 1971.
Hoffman quickly landed a position as an industrial engineer at B.F. Goodrich Co. in Akron. "It was a tremendous learning experience," he said, adding that BFG's Akron complex was a city within a city.
"I was at BFG during the Hey MAC (Make Akron Competitive) days of the early 1970s, a time when the entire Akron complex was trying to address its ability to compete against more modern facilities, which were often located in the Southern section of the U.S.," he recalled.
"The Akron complex was huge, employed over 10,000 and produced everything from tires to golf balls to rubber bands to conveyor belts, industrial hoses and fire hoses," he said. "There was also a growing aerospace division. It was an amazing place."
BFG's V-belts department was the first large operation that the company relocated south, setting up the business in Elgin, S.C., in 1972. That set the stage for Hoffman to transfer to the site as a young engineer, with hopes of being part of something new and big.
He said he had no fear that the giant Akron operation would be relocated or sold business by business, which eventually happened. The opportunity of a new professional adventure lured him to Elgin, Hoffman said.
His job was to help launch the company's newest factory at the time. He remained there until 1982 when he was promoted to plant manager, responsible for modernizing the firm's industrial hose manufacturing facility in Salisbury, N.C.
After 15 years with BFG, Hoffman left the company to manage KRC Inc., an industrial hose manufacturing business, at the beginning of 1986. He stayed with KRC until August 1990 when he became marketing manager for Scandura Belting Co., which would later become part of Fenner Dunlop Americas Inc.
"My career in conveyor belting really began in August 1990," Hoffman said. "I had spent approximately 10 years in V-belt manufacturing and 10 years in industrial hose manufacturing, so in hindsight transitioning to marketing in conveyor belting was clearly a watershed moment."
In March 1993, Hoffman left Scandura and moved on to Siegling America Inc., where he soon was named vice president of finance. He became president of the company on Jan. 1, 1995, and was promoted to president of the Americas with added responsibilities for Mexico and South America in 1996, posts he has held until today.
Forbo acquired Siegling in 1994 but did not change its name to Forbo Siegling L.L.C., the U.S. arm of Switzerland-based Forbo International S.A., until 2007.