Ronald Witkowski (B.B.A. '06)
Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Although I do not recall the name of the exact class, I remember it being a business class. My professor was Salvatore Sodano. Professor Sodano was easily identifiable as a very intelligent individual who really engaged the class through his demeanor and personal experience. It was one of the classes I attended, during which every student was completely engaged at all times.
I was fortunate to surround myself with some incredible individuals during my time at Hofstra; my fondest memories are the times spent with those people.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job out of Hofstra was working for a company called Broadridge. (At the time, it was a sector of ADP.) I acquired the job though the Hofstra Career Center. It was a great program and the company had some great talent. The most valuable thing that I learned while working there was that “corporate America” was not what I wanted to be part of for the rest of my life. As silly as that sounds, it was an invaluable lesson.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Prior to my current venture with love2brew, I tended to gravitate toward sales roles; most recently, I was vice president of North American sales for a Brazilian technology company. I would say that attaining the job was mainly about being in the right place at the right time and having the foresight to take advantage of the opportunity I was presented with.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Try and monetize something you love. You’re going to spend the majority of your life working; don’t fall into the trap of settling to get by. If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What inspired you to start love2brew?
As a home brewer (someone who makes beer/wine/cider/mead in their home) I was very frustrated with the purchasing aspect of the hobby. I felt like many shops and companies did a very poor job of fulfilling my needs as a customer. I realized that there would be a definite niche for a homebrew business that was run like a professional business instead of just a hobby shop.
What is a typical work day like at love2brew?
My partner (Mark Spezio, who happens to be my roommate from my first year at Hofstra) and I spend the day on numerous tasks. As with any entrepreneurial venture there is a lot of work to be done and never enough time. A typical day consists of managing inventory, meeting the needs of the customers who enter the shop, fulfilling Internet orders (we distribute nationally), working on our website, looking into process improvements, brewing beer (not every day, but I still need to throw that in there!), managing our finances, etc. The list is long and no two days are the same.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see your career progressing to in the future?
In 10 years I see myself still with love2brew and leading the No.1 homebrew supply company in the United States. I believe that we have the correct foundation, strategy, work ethic, and implementation to make that goal a reality. Plus, who would ever want to make a career switch when making and tasting beer is part of the job?
Ron Witkowski's (B.B.A. ’06) passion for beer began to blossom while he was obtaining his Bachelor of Business Administration. As with many college students, his passion revolved around expanding his palate and consuming beer, but the seed had been planted.
Mr. Witkowski's professional career started in college selling knives for Vector Marketing (Cutco). A natural sales person, this job allowed him to experience sales first hand and gain some excellent experience and confidence in a direct sales position.
After graduation, he was one of eight students accepted into the Management Training Program offered by Broadridge (then ADP). He left sales to take an operations management job with Broadridge for two years. He learned a valuable lesson working for Broadridge; the 9-5 corporate job is
not for everyone, and it certainly was not for him.
Mr. Witkowski then returned to a sales role with Bematech as a partner program manager and, within three years, he was promoted to a territory manager, business development manager and, finally, to vice president of North American sales. It was during his three years at Bematech that he began his journey into beer brewing. What started as a casual hobby soon became a fervent passion. Initially introduced to the process of brewing by his friend and now love2brew partner Mark Spezio (who happens to be his roommate from his first year at Hofstra), he took the hobby and ran with it.
After identifying several weaknesses in the home brewing industry, Mr. Witkowski decided there was a great opportunity for a large-scale home brew supply distribution company on the East Coast, and just like that, love2brew was born. Today love2brew is one of the fastest growing homebrewing supply companies in the United States. Love2brew provides a plethora of products combined with daily website content about beer brewing (which, prior to love2brew, was non-existent). Located in central New Jersey, love2brew is an active member of the home brewing community, sponsoring local clubs and events designed to help foster and grow the hobby.
Aside from brewing great beers, Ron Witkowski is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu who enjoys training and hiking with his dog Umbra.