Sealing the Deal

Gaddis executive has done it all, from hamburgers to mechanical seals

John Griffin certainly isn’t your average salesman. The 63-year old account executive currently works for Gaddis, Inc., the Hilton Head, S.C.-based mechanical seals manufacturer. His routine involves making sales calls and occasional travelling. But prior to joining Gaddis about four years ago, he owned and operated Jump & Phil’s Bar and Grill, a Hilton Head staple, for 21 years.

John Griffin

John Griffin

At the outset, the two industries appear mutually exclusive. Managing a bar-restaurant would seem to involve balancing front and back-of-the-house tasks equally; keeping tabs on health inspections and over-served customers. Selling mechanical seals evokes the image of sitting at a desk, promoting the quality of a few specifically engineered products to a niche industry. But look no further than the word “service” to find the intersection of this Venn diagram. The hospitality industry, as it is formally known, is more often called simply “the service industry” by those who comprise it. If you’ve ever worked in this forum, it’s the collection of owners, managers, servers, hostesses, bartenders, busboys, and vendors who propel the constantly spinning wheel that results in you having an enjoyable night out, dining at a restaurant or watching a game at a bar with friends.

The electromechanical industry also relies heavily on service. All the behind-the-scenes work that goes into maintenance, repair, and parts purchases is ultimately defined by the goal of providing a consistently good product to the patron/customer. And both industries share the amiable characteristic of having a community within the workforce—employees who relate and network constantly through their experiences and oftentimes serve one another. “Selling mechanical seals, even though different from selling hamburgers or the nightly dinner special at the restaurant, is similar in the fact that there are other companies out there that do the same thing,” Griffin told EA, “you want to make sure that you put your company’s best information out there for the customers and try to make the sale.”

Gaining customer trust and loyalty (“regulars” in the food service industry) calls for reliable service. Owners want to ensure quality ingredients and preparation are a constant, so as not to lose customers after one or two go-rounds. “The restaurant I owned for 21 years was a local spot that dealt with giving the best food and drink with the best service to regular customers and tourists in order to be successful, or the patrons could always go elsewhere,” says Griffin. “It is the same feel at Gaddis. Mechanical seals range from the simple to the very complicated, and there is something new to learn each day. The people of Gaddis are extremely knowledgeable and it is always interesting how we solve problems with mechanical seals that the people who repair pumps have. The quality and the service is what brings people back to Gaddis and that is as important as our really great prices.”jumpnphils

For Griffin, whose nickname “Jump” (which his sister, Kim, coined when John was a baby jumping around in his crib and has stuck ever since) supplied the first half of his restaurant’s title, the transition from one industry to the next was born from these elements. Networking with people—which essentially boils down to being congenial and sincere—provided a great opportunity. “I had a partner in the restaurant and was looking for something to do with the extra time I had,” he says. “Bob Gaddis was eating dinner one night at the restaurant and I explained my situation to him not knowing exactly what he did, and he told me to start working part-time for him the next day.” The supplementary gig turned into a full-time job when Griffin sold the restaurant in January this year. John emphasizes the importance of work atmosphere as a salient influence on his “really good experience” with Gaddis.

“The family atmosphere of Gaddis Inc. that comes from Bob and Linda Gaddis and goes through the whole company is what attracted me to working here. Bob always asks about my wife, kids, grandkids, and even my new puppy, and he does that with all the employees. I didn’t think I would be doing this at this point in my life, but I am really glad I found a place that challenges me every day.”

Gaddis Inc. sells cartridge and component mechanical seals and packing for over 400 brands of pumps. The company also repair seals, which Griffin says can save a lot of money over purchasing new seals. “I think it is a plus that we keep it to these products and services  as it lets us concentrate on being really good at them and not spreading ourselves thin.”

Jump & Phil’s will continue on with new ownership, but retaining the name is likely to help retain a majority of its regular customers, David Lauderdale of The Island Packet writes. Here’s to never limiting yourself, and trusting that good service and a sincere desire to please the customer will produce timeless results.

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