Every successful business has a recipe for success. Since the 1930’s that recipe for Glissen Chemical has never wavered. The Brooklyn, NY based company has always focused on honesty, integrity, and quality.
When Eugene Lehr’s bitters business became a victim of prohibition, in today’s parlance, he pivoted to the manufacturing and sales of the highest quality cleaning chemicals for bars, restaurant and hospitality operators. The legendary Joseph Lehr then joined the family company 70 years ago and as they say the rest is history. He began an odyssey as a true road warrior. For weeks at a time, “Joe” Lehr, as he is known to his friends, would travel from hamlet to hamlet across the Northeast, selling the Glissen line to restaurant and equipment supply dealers. These travels created a culture for the Brooklyn based firm and a reputation of elegance and excellence that has never been matched. That diligence and attention to manufacturing quality and unmatched customer service to support has taken Glissen to the pinnacle of success. They are the foodservice industry’s leading detergent manufacturer with distribution in 22 states.
The Glissen line is comprised of a diverse product line within the company’s Nu-Foam line that is recognized from Coast to Coast as the industry standard. From Nu-Foam tablets for the washing of bar glasses to the Nu-Foam’s Pizza suds for pizzerias, you will find a Glissen solution throughout a foodservice establishment.
Joseph Lehr’s approach has always been that quality needs to be sold face to face. That’s why he and his Dad spent decades on the road building relationships and trust in the Glissen line. In 2015, Joe’s grandson Rich Knoop returned to the company and hasn’t looked back. He has grabbed the proverbial baton and has managed to both embrace the fact to face grace and culture of his grandfather while injecting the realities of today’s e-commerce marketplace.
“Our goal continues to have a personal relationship with every Glissen dealer, while at the same time understanding the needs of today’s buyer,” Knoop explained. “We will never sell direct to Amazon, but we are here to support our dealers who use their own web sites and Amazon to respond to their customer’s needs,” Lehr added.
With an eye towards servicing the needs of both the traditional equipment and supply dealer and the rapid growing e-commerce marketplace, Lehr and Knoop crafted a strategy. The centerpiece of the plan was to add a key executive to work with the duo to grow sales with an eye to the future and the savvy to respond to the needs of the longtime Glissen/NuFoam customer base.
As they looked at candidates, Tom Vajcovec checked all of the boxes.
“Tom brings a deep base of relationships with dealers across the country,” Knoop added. “I bring younger insight where Tom has extensive knowledge and experience.”
“Our goal is to keep human interaction in the process by building a connection with a dealer in an age in which everybody is in front of a screen,” Vajcovec added.
For Vajcovec, the new post as Director of Sales at Glissen marks his return to the company. For a number of years, he represented Glissen as part of his portfolio of lines that he marketed to dealers in New England. “He understands who we are and what we stand for,” Lehr said. “His knowledge of sales and how we operate will be a huge plus to our continual commitment to supporting our customers. I remember vividly how impressed we were 20 plus years ago when we hired Tom over dinner at the Norwich (CT) Inn over dinner. My late wife Bobbi, although not active in the business, had the best feel for who would fit for you and she loved Tom.”
The mutual respect and friendship have never wavered. Vajcovec noted: “What a special opportunity to work for and with someone I have respected personally and professionally for years. It’s that very same respect that Joe and now Rich show to every customer and member of the Glissen team that make this so special.”