CEO Of The Month Jim Loffler of Loffler Companies Inc.

Jim Loffler

A Place Where People Matter

 By Haley Freeman

According to Jim Loffler, president and CEO of Loffler Companies Inc., “There’s nothing fancy about what we do. We’ve built our quality brand and reputation over a long period of time with good old-fashioned hard work and doing the right thing. We simply believe in taking care of people.”

Loffler Companies is the leading business technology and managed services provider in the Upper Midwest, delivering IT solutions; cloud solutions; multifunctional copiers and printers; managed print services; phone and voice solutions; on-site managed services; and software and workflow technologies. The 464 people who make up Loffler Companies are committed to exceeding the expectations of clients, employees, partners and the community by serving with uncompromising integrity and relentless excellence.

The Loffler family name is on the door, and the company is a true reflection of its founder. Loffler grew up with five siblings in a household fueled by the creative energy of their father who worked in the radio industry. The family moved 14 times before Loffler entered the eighth grade, and his siblings remained his constant companions. Tragedy struck when their father developed multiple sclerosis at the young age of 43. “He passed away when he was 51,” Loffler recalled. “At one point we had a good, average life, and then as he got sick and was in a wheelchair, we went from living on Lake Minnetonka to living in a trailer park. For me, college wasn’t an option, but I was blessed to marry my junior high sweetheart and went to Hennepin Technical College for two years to get a sales and marketing degree. I knew if I was going to make it, I couldn’t wait for anybody else to do it for me.”

At a time in his life when many young people are still contemplating what they’re going to be when they grow up, the tenacious young Loffler began a business that would become nationally recognized. He and his wife, Darcy, began in a one-room office selling Philips dictation machines and secretarial services. Loffler always had a love for technology and an uncanny instinct for what would be the next big trend in an industry, and over the years, business evolved from mechanical typewriters to electronic typewriters, and then to the big game changer – fax machines.

“I was fortunate enough to land a line of fax machines at the very beginning of that business, and it enabled me to grow revenue both from a service and supply standpoint. Like all technology, there is a point where the bell curve peaks and then comes down as new technology replaces it. We rode the fax technology to the top of the wave, and then the conversation turned to multifunction machines, with the printer, fax and scanner all in one. I realized that it was important to look into the future right before the peak and figure out where the next big wave was coming from. We became a Canon copier dealer, and that brand name combined with our good reputation and values opened a tremendous opportunity. Today, we are proud to be one of the nation’s top sales and service dealers offering leading technology from Canon, Konica Minolta, Xerox, HP, Lexmark, Microsoft, NEC, ShoreTel and more.” Loffler participates on many advisory boards for the industry and manufacturers, including his role as chairman of the Canon Dealer advisory council.

Loffler Companies’ consistent growth has been organic as well as through acquisitions. The company has acquired 15 other IT and copier enterprises over the past 10 years. These organizations all brought talented people with matching core values and industry leading skill sets to further strengthen Loffler Companies’ value and to diversify product and service offerings. “We are honored that most all of the employees and owners of the companies that have joined the Loffler Companies family are still valued team members and are flourishing. If an owner is going to sell and wants to keep working or have their people taken care of, they can trust that they’re in good hands with us. With the latest industry shift to mobile devices and interconnectivity, Loffler Companies is able to support companies from small to large with managed and co-managed IT and voice communications. We just acquired Clear North Technologies of Plymouth, Minnesota. It doubled our IT service platform and customer base, and the company is a wonderful fit with our culture. We are in a really good place with a lot of great people, and we have refined our systems and processes. Great things happen when we welcome this new talent and their customers to integrate our technology, No. 1 rated services, managed services offerings, and best practices to create leading edge solutions. We give them access to things small companies can’t afford to do and provide huge efficiency and scale to their business.”

Loffler’s son, James Loffler, is currently the company’s director of IT solutions and when the time is right, will be leading the company with the same mission and core values Loffler Companies has embraced for the past 30 years. “After James graduated from college, he worked for another technology company to begin his career instead of coming right into the family business. He’s worked in many departments since he was young, including in the warehouse, training on equipment, and more recently in our voice and IT departments. We are very proud that he also helps lead our involvement in community and charitable events. I want our entire organization to be assured that this is the right path for the company, to know James as a person, and to trust that James will lead them successfully for the next 30 years.”

Loffler is heartfelt in recognizing that his success is the result of the hard work and expertise of all of the company’s employees, as well as the leadership of his managers and senior team. As Loffler looks to the next 30 years, he and his senior team are undertaking an initiative called, “Building our Future Workforce.” The initiative will increase understanding of new generations and help develop future leaders with the same core values and mission focus. “I want to leave my son with strong leadership and employees,” Loffler says.

Some years ago, Loffler and his senior management team, who have been together for almost a decade, deployed the Traction process for business. A key outcome was defining and highlighting the company’s core values that guide everything they do as a business, as well as creating a formula for ongoing growth and innovation that unites, guides and inspires everyone associated with the company. The resulting culture is one that not only makes Loffler Companies a great company to do business with, but also a great place to work. Loffler Companies was just recognized by the Star Tribune as one of the Top Workplaces in Minnesota for the sixth consecutive year, as well as being recognized for the first time by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal as a Best Place to Work award winner. “Of all of the awards we have received, those are the ones that mean the most. We strive to take good care of our people. Customers like dealing with people that enjoy their jobs. We’ve built a culture of recognizing people for doing things right and we share any kudos we receive with all employees. It lifts everybody up, and people are proud to work on a winning team.”

The same values that drive Loffler Companies, also drive it as a force for good in the world. Operating on the belief that “to whom much is given, much is required,” Loffler Companies employees regularly engage in giving back to the communities in which they live and work. Loffler Companies’ community connections have grown from working with St. Joseph’s Home for Children to helping countless organizations that need help and support. A special bond forms between those who serve together, whether it’s to feed the hungry or support someone battling cancer.

Loffler’s voice conveys real admiration when he speaks about his wife of 38 years. “Darcy has a living heart for helping people. She worked in our business since the start and is now very active in our church and taking care of our family. She and our daughter have volunteered numerous hours over the years helping kids who have been neglected and abused. She has been a wonderful mother to our own children, and now she helps to take care of our four grandchildren. Our daughter, Danielle, also works in the family business managing our real estate.”

In this company where people matter, there isn’t a lot of employee turnover; customer service is phenomenal; problems are solved quickly; and doing the right thing is everyone’s job. “I’m amazingly grateful for the people I work with,” Loffler said, “for the customers who believe in us, our employees, and our families and communities. It’s a beautiful thing as a privately held company in this industry to allow our employees to do what is right and put our customers first with the one goal being to exceed client expectations. With us, it’s about the customer. We take excellent care of them and our employees, and everything else as a business falls nicely into place. It’s simple. And I sleep well at night.”