Meet Paul de Jong, one of the most knowledgeable colleagues at the Hoshizaki Europe B.V headquarters in Amsterdam, who shares his inspiring path into the refrigeration and ice industry.
With last week’s World Refrigeration Day still resonating in our minds, it is a great opportunity to have a closer look at the movers and shakers, the drivers, and representatives of Hoshizaki Europe.
Paul de Jong started his working career as a 23-year-old manager for a retail outlet with Gall &Gall, selling whiskey, wines, and liquors to end-users. From there he worked in different segments of the Dutch and international food & beverage industry before eventually settling within the ice and refrigeration market as Head of Export Sales at Hoshizaki.
Paul, can you briefly outline your “cool career” – your way into working with ice and refrigeration?
Although I really enjoyed working in retail, it is a quite physical job, loading and unloading tons of beverage boxes and pallets almost every day. I then applied for a Sales Admin job with the famous whiskey company Seagram’s and I really loved selling liquor brands like Chivas Regal, Martell Cognac, Sandeman Sherry, Mumm Champagne, and 4 Roses Bourbon. This was my first office job, and I started digging into subjects such as sales administration, customer service, trade marketing, and account management, selling to big retail companies such as Albert Heijn and Gall & Gall. After Seagram’s, I stayed in FMCG but started to work for a big Dutch cheese producer Westland, selling different cheeses, such as Old Amsterdam and Maaslander to retail customers. After working in the cheese industry for 5 years, I moved on to work for Lotus Bakeries known for traditional Dutch baked products and pastries ‘’Speculoos’’ and ‘’Glace’s’’. After that, I moved to Pervasco and hard sugar candy producers, like Confiserie Napoleon, and Anta Flu. But FMCG retail is an extremely fast and stressful environment, with products being removed and added constantly to portfolios of retailers. At a certain point, I felt that leaving FMCG would bring a new challenge. Then I went on to browse the internet and that’s where I saw the Hoshizaki penguin.
And that’s how the story began…?
Yes, indeed. But in my eyes, serving cocktails with Hoshizaki ice cubes still makes it a ‘’food-related consumer product’’. As ice is food. I love to see our end-user customers’ relationship with our product, the Hoshizaki ice cube. Coming from a food retail background, it is a new perspective, but it does have many touch points.
When I started working for Hoshizaki, I first managed the Dutch branch, then the Benelux markets, and today I am responsible for the export markets, from Eastern & Southern Europe, parts of Central Asia to the North part of Africa.
What does refrigeration mean to you?
With my background of course I understand the importance of refrigeration, which we supply to an important segment of society. When you open a restaurant one of the first things you will need to buy is refrigeration, next to the hot solutions or the dishwasher. So, refrigeration obviously helps you with the storage of your fresh ingredients. An essential factor for keeping the quality of your products in good condition is refrigeration. Often, we see that especially start-up bars or restaurants don’t really look for certain brands. What matters for them is often only the price. But very often we can witness a certain learning curve of understanding that a certain quality is indeed affordable and that it matters. Once their business has been established to a certain degree, they will look for products known to simplify their business, avoiding tedious break and repair cycles. And this is where we come in…
Looking back to your interesting career in ice and refrigeration, you probably have interesting stories to tell about amazing projects or business partners?
Yes, just recently I visited one of my long-standing distributor partners in Israel. I have already known them for 12 years, and they have been selling Hoshizaki for over 20 years already. And it is truly inspiring to see how passionate they are about their projects and our Hoshizaki icemakers, producing the square ice cubes. Their portfolio consists of all types of food service equipment to have the full project supplied, but when it comes to ice makers, they only sell Hoshizaki. They have been strong communicators of our Hoshizaki brand, making people aware of more than our machines, and making them believe in our best feature: our slow-melting, fully square, famous ice cube. It is just inspiring to see customers hype our ice as much as we do internally.