The generalizations of Gen Z and millennials, from being poor problem solvers to being preoccupied with their smartphones, is a world apart from Joseph Hobson.
The vice president of flooring operations for Fort Myers-based OFDC Commercial Interiors, Hobson, instead, is the model of a get-it-done (well) employee. He would have to be, as he’s been promoted at least three times in seven years, carrying a slew of sales-based awards and recognition along the way.
“At one point in a time we had joked that I was the plug,” Hobson says. “Anytime someone left or there was a bleeding hole in one of the other departments, they would just put me in there, see if I could fix it. That jumpstarted my career.”
Hobson, who often goes by Hobbs, including his email signature, started with OFDC in 2015 as a flooring estimator and operations assistant. He cross-trained in every department, and two years later, writes OFDC President and CEO Joe Gammons in Hobson’s 40 under 40 nomination form, he was promoted to flooring account executive. In 2020, Hobson became the youngest member of OFDC’s management team.
Hobson has won consecutive President’s Club honors at OFDC each year since 2017, in reaching at least 125% of annual sales goals. In addition, the flooring division has a 165% four-year growth rate, Gammons writes, up from 38% before Hobson took it over. Hobson oversees a team of 15 people at OFDC responsible for multiple high-profile flooring projects, including Arthrex, Gateway High School, Gulf Coast Medical Center and mega-resorts Margaritaville and Sunseeker.
OFDC Vice President and CFO Nicholas Gabrielsen hired Hobson in 2015, and has since become a mentor. “He’s a testament to the figure it out factor,” Gabrielsen says. “I did take a chance on him, but my gut told me this is someone who had a lot of drive in him and was going places. It was clear from day one he was going to be the first one in and the last one out and he was going to beat me, which was awesome to see in someone just starting his career.”
Hobson, who had a rough childhood and didn’t go to college, says by watching and working with Gabrielsen he’s learned a new way to approach work, life and work-life balance. A father of an infant boy and three-year-old girl, Hobson and his wife also recently adopted a five-year-old boy. Through his church and other area programs, Hobson has become a strong advocate for foster children and care.
And, in a nod to Gabrielsen, Hobson says being a parent and go-to leader for a thriving business now beats playing video games or hanging out at a bar watching a game with friends all night. The latter activities, he says, are a crutch. “That has become less fun and exciting to me,” Hobson says “Now what’s exciting to me is watching our business grow and looking at potential new markets to explore and other businesses to purchase.”
City of residence: Estero
Birthplace: Seminole Years in the area: Seven Marital status/children: Married seven years, three children: eight-week-old boy, three-year-old girl, five-year-old adopted son Alma mater/degree: Clearwater High School/diploma What community group or organization are you most involved with? Every Child Initiative Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Company office What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Or the weirdest task you've ever been assigned? Line cook for a concession vendor at Tropicana Field. I was in high school raising money for a state competition and they gave a 16-year-old full control of the kitchen with five minutes of training. What's your top tip for being productive? A very fine balance of isolation and collaboration. Being in the construction industry has taught me a lot about relying on my team members to carry out the tasks I put in place and there is a lot of collaboration and teamwork that happens to keep the machine moving forward at a constant pace while continuing to grow and get better. However when there is a deadline that needs to be met there is nothing like sound proof headphones and a good playlist to block everyone else out to achieve a fully productive day. If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Flipping cars What's your favorite off-hours activity? Anything sports related, watching and/or playing. I love to play golf and disc golf. What's the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what's keeping you from completing it? Going on a mission trip with my church. I usually talk myself out of it because of work and having three small kids. What's your favorite podcast? "Armchair Expert" with Dax Shepard At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? 20% What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Email, Autotrader, Bleacher Report What books are you reading now? The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson What's your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? Christian rap such as Andy Mineo, Lecrae and Trip Lee Who would play you in the movie of your life? Adam Sandler Where is your happy place? The hot tub with good friends and a beer Describe yourself in three words: Sarcastic, compassionate and dedicated Who is your mentor for your career and why? Nicholas Gabrielsen, He was willing to give me a shot as a 23-year-old with no accounting background. He has invested a lot of time into helping me shape my career. Without his support and his guidance I would not be here today. What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? That it is possible to have a successful career and a family. Most people choose one or the other and often regret the one they chose later on in life. I have had a wild start to my career but when I started at OFDC I was just engaged. I have since gotten married to my high school sweetheart, started fostering, my wife bore two children and we adopted a little boy. I have watched Nick juggle both being a fantastic father and husband. I have modeled my work ethic to his while also making sure I keep my family in the forefront of my focus. Part of this also comes from his selflessness. He is one of the few people I know who works 120 hours a week but who would still pick up the phone at 2 a.m. and come lend a hand if asked.