"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
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.
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
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.
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."