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Serial business owners buy a pair of Sarasota bagel businesses

From skiing to schmear, the core of the Koffman brothers’ business model remains straightforward: Treat people well, and avoid micromanaging.


  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 5:00 a.m. July 14, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Brothers David and Jeffrey Koffman are turning the former Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in downtown Sarasota to a high-end showroom for Florida Design Works.
Brothers David and Jeffrey Koffman are turning the former Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in downtown Sarasota to a high-end showroom for Florida Design Works.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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David Koffman has bought and sold dozens of businesses over his 40-year entrepreneurial career, everywhere from New York to Florida and New Jersey to Asia. 

Some were sophisticated financing deals. One deal many years ago involved buying a TV station out of bankruptcy that had a surprise asset: antennas on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. But one of the newer businesses to join the Koffman family of companies, Lox and Egg, a high-volume bagel joint on a high-traffic patch of Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, falls under a different category. 

The deal to buy that business came together on a napkin. 

Jeffrey Koffman, David’s younger brother and longtime business partner, spotted Lox and Egg for sale on a business brokerage website. But he balked at what he thought was too high a price. So the brothers went into the store, 4065 S. Tamiami Trail, to negotiate. The owners and the Koffmans then traded offers back and forth on a napkin. After a short while, they came to an agreement. 

That was in February. The brothers followed up the purchase of Lox and Egg in April by acquiring Brooklyn Bagels & Deli, a competitor with two locations in Sarasota. (Financial terms on both sales weren't disclosed.) 

Yet the Koffman brothers’ business strategy, and their holdings, goes deeper than buying up bagel shops. They have an eclectic portfolio, from bagels and kitchen design and decor in Sarasota to a golf course and 167-acre resort in New Jersey to a foam manufacturing and fabrication business in Tennessee. 

The Sarasota-Bradenton area is where the company’s focus is right now, particularly after the bagel store acquisitions and another purchase earlier this year, of Sarasota-based Kauffman Glass & Mirror. On the most recent purchase, the Koffmans have used the glass and mirror company’s services, but joke it has the “wrong spelling” of the family name. 

All told, the Koffman brothers’ business entities, under the umbrella HSK Industries, now have some 200 employees in Sarasota-Bradenton. That includes the bagel stores, kitchen and bathroom installers, home office staff and more. Koffman doesn’t rule out adding more bagel stores in the area in the future, further expanding the payroll. Company officials decline to disclose revenue data. 

“We are making a huge investment in Sarasota,” says HSK Industries Sales and Marketing Director Jen Horvat. “It’s been an exciting year.” 

One of the key themes in any business the Koffman brothers buy or invest in, says David Koffman, is finding the right mix of people, at all levels of the operation, in any industry. “We look for great management,” says Koffman, “and great people.”

Another theme? They stay mostly in the background in any of the businesses — and try not to micromanage once the right team is in place.

David Koffman and Jeffrey Koffman trace their business lineage back to their grandfather, Harry Koffman, who was a car salesman in Binghamton, New York in the 1930s. Harry Koffman moved into financing and then, with his son Burton “Buddy” Koffman, started what was essentially a merchant bank, lending money to other businesses. In some of the deals the Koffmans took equity stakes, and that’s how David and Jeffrey eventually started owning businesses, not just lending money.  

The business deal that brought David Koffman to Sarasota was West Florida Distributors, a tile, stone and cabinetry business now called Florida Design Works. He bought that company in 2002, and over the years has expanded the model to include more showrooms and become a go-to spot for both homeowners and the trades professionals they work with on a project. 

Jeffrey Koffman moved to the region from New York in 2020. Then, in summer 2021 the brothers acquired Kirkplan Kitchen & Bath to complement Florida Design Works. Now Kirkplan is the main outlet for consumers doing kitchen, bath and outdoor remodeling, while Florida Design is a resource for both consumers and professionals in what the company calls BRADs: builders, remodelers, architects and designers. 

David Koffman, 64, reflecting back on the businesses he and his brother have owned, says the best thing about having a hand in a large handful of companies is “the scorecard,” where you can see winners by how the company does and grows.  

“We can look out and see the growth and see happy employees,” he says.

The toughest thing about owning businesses, he says, “is the opposite, when things aren’t going well,” citing the stress of making payroll and other challenges. 

Koffman adds that he’s made plenty of mistakes in buying businesses — though he tries to maintain a forward-looking mentality. “Anybody who has been doing deals for a long time would be lying to you,” he says, “if they told you they never did a bad deal.” 

(This story was updated to reflect all of locations for Florida Design Works.) 

 

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Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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