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Jack Gordon




James Wm. Moffa,
Oct 21, 1950-March 19, 2012


James Wm. Moffa

Jim's publicity photo, mid 1980s


"Before I begin, I think it's only fair to tell you about myself."

James Wm. Moffa was born and spent his early life in New Jersey. He often told the story of how he got his start in the industry working at his family's restaurant, called Moffa's Farm. His father's biggest criticism was that he "didn't smile enough" -- a necessity in the hospitality industry. Jim's excuse was that he wasn't paid enough to smile so much.

Jim attended the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts). Following his graduation in the early 1970's, he moved to Michigan, where he was soon employed by Win Schuler, one of the legends in the industry, as a trainer for his restaurants' employees.

In the mid 70's Jim was hired by Bill Fisher, Executive VP of the National Restaurant Association, as assistant director of educational seminars. He criss-crossed the country for the association, speaking to thousands of foodservice owners and operators and their employees. Although an accomplished speaker, Jim disliked having his presentation interrupted by questions. "I'm like a 747," he'd say at the beginning of seminars. "I go forward. I don't go backwards." Together with Stephen G. Miller, the NRA's educational seminar director, Jim created and led seminars on hiring, employee motivation, performance review, increasing sales, employee selection, and many other topics.

When the NRA moved from Chicago to Washington, D.C., in the late 70's, Jim was responsible for planning and overseeing installation of the new telephone system, a extremely important task for an association that depended on successful member communication. Jim took great pride in the seamless transition for callers to the association during its 800 mile move.

After the educational division was downsized in the 1980s, Jim and Miller left the association to start the Miller Resource Group. They worked together for several years creating and putting on seminars for state and national associations as well as coordinating speaking schedules for some of the foodservice industry's most famous trainers.

Jim left the partnership in the mid-80's to focus on working with individual operators and small chain owners, while still presenting seminars for trade groups and larger companies. He moved to Opportunity, Washington (just outside of Spokane) in 1985.

Some of his clients included Hyatt Hotels, Carson-Pirie Scott, Walgreen's Corp., the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, and the Alsaker Corp. He put on seminars for associations in all 50 states and several Canadian provinces as well as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Association of Concessionaires, the National Club Association, the Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association, and the National Restaurant Association.

An early innovator in individual, small group training, Jim produced audio and/or video training sessions on "How to Hire When There Are No People," "How to Increase Food & Beverage Sales," and "Motivation--Winning Ways With People." He was the author of several publications including 201 Sources of Employees, 225 Ideas to Increase Sales, and Ideas for Better Training.




I first met Jim at RASW's Class H Convention in Spokane in 1986. He wasn't on the program (Jack Gordon had hired him for our Fast Food Convention in Tacoma later in the year) but since he had just moved to Spokane, he came by to do some reconnaisance. And to congratulate me for a recent headline in the Pacific NW Restaurateur that said "Jim Hoffa to Speak at Convention."

We became friends instead of just business associates later that year when he was in Tacoma to speak at our Convention. My family and I had just moved to a new house and Beverly suggested I call him up and invite him to dinner. "We only live 20 minutes from the hotel," she reminded me. So I called and he accepted.  90 minutes later (he got lost) Jim showed up. For the next few years, he thought nothing of calling to let us know he was leaving Spokane in his orange Super Beetle and he'd see us in four or five hours.

As administrative vp and director of education for RASW, I coordinated and attended all of our statewide and regional meetings. So I saw a lot of Jim during the time that he spoke for us. He took shortened versions of his "Train the Trainer" and "How to Hire (When There Are No People)" seminars to scores of chapter meetings across Washington State. He also spoke at statewide conventions and conferences and our International Hospitality Show in the Kingdome.

We continued to talk and correspond after I left the Restaurant Association and he'd come by and visit when he spoke in our area for a trade group or other business. Unfortunately, our weekly contacts became monthly and then more like semi-annually. But "Uncle Jim" -- as our older daughters called him -- was still regularly in my thoughts. It was with great sadness that in April of 2012 I received a card from his sister, Monica, telling me of Jim's passing at the family home in Michigan. 

"When you hire someone, make sure that person has WOO. WOO is the ability to positively affect someone you've never seen before."

James "Jim" Moffa and John Gordon at an RASW meeting.

Photo by F. L. Ash

John R Gordon (left) and Jim Moffa (right) at an RASW meeting in 1986


There is no sin in making a profit.
Nicholas Moffa









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