The human connection does not always get lost in the translation of facts to figures. A career can be lucrative without the person sacrificing adoration for what they do for a living; while most of us would agree that strategy and creativity, logic and imagination, are impossible partners when it comes to fostering a functional, let alone flourishing relationship–that’s not always the case.
The mere existence of David Gerszberg, VP of Johnson Business Products and Interiors, is proof of otherwise. Through his membership with the Northern New Jersey chapter of BNI, Primary Connections, he found the key resources to unlocking the door of the path leading to the golden era of his career.
Gerszberg has been in the game for the past thirty years; his foray into the business world began in Jersey City at the age of eleven, where he assisted his father in running his stationery business. Gerszberg kept up with the helping throughout high school and through the end of college. Once out of college, he was thrust into the financial business realm when he became a full-time CPA.
When prompted to reflect upon why he ventured into office products, he states: “My brother got into business with my dad, they were growing this business and after a while, they needed an inside person. Someone to oversee finances, bookkeeping and internal operations.”
Gerszberg’s career in sales kicked off a short seven years ago. He vehemently insists that the transition was a necessary one, “We were just changing the way we did our business, and I got into the sales side of things. I like the collaborative atmosphere better than being shoved in a cubicle all day. Nothing wrong with cubicles, we sell them.”
Finances soon fell by the wayside for Gerszberg, ushering in a welcome shift in his career.
His company, Johnson Business Products and Interiors, deals in the sales of office furnishings and office supplies; specializing in office design. “Sales is never easy, finding the business, finding the people who are interested in the business—therein lays the challenge,” He observes. “BNI has helped expose me to a whole big group of people. I’ve been in it for about four years, I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been beneficial to me.”
Despite his active hobby as a musician, Gerszberg claims not to be much of a creative spirit. But there is immense creative passion in his voice when he speaks of his past office designs projects. “I like going into a blank space and emerging with everything furnished and brand new.”
As he pages through a catalog of his completed works, he speaks exuberantly of points of pride. The excitement and contented fondness he’s taken in his work are beyond evident. He has breathed life into his customer’s visions and has treasured every moment of it. Each piece of furniture, every speck of tile in these offices, was chosen with the utmost care, the greatest focus on functionality and cost efficiency.
Gerszberg has furnished offices for a power plant, plastic surgeon, public and private schools–from preschools to universities, a boardroom for New Jersey Transit and an entire office building.
A conference room designed by Gerszberg for a Hackensack law firm even found itself front and center on a hip-hop reality show. Gerszberg says with a chuckle, “There was a catfight on the show, and these two girls were hitting the walls I had put so much thought into placing there.” While he bemoans that the walls had to suffer the impact, he is proud of the durability that they demonstrated.
Gerszberg credits one of his biggest successes to a referral made through a realtor, and fellow BNI member. “Referrals are why BNI is so great. There’s not as much cold pitching. You usually get a warm introduction to potential business opportunities. In addition, you are developing a rapport with a diverse group of professionals which is mandatory if you want to succeed.”
Johnson’s selection of office products and the avenue of which they sell them is a direct result of a great partnership with Office Concepts, Inc. Seven years ago, the company’s office supply accounts were transferred over to Office Concepts. The merger saved Gerszberg considerable costs,
“We got rid of our trucks, our computers, our warehouse.” he adds, “It’s a lot: You’re selling, putting projects together, doing presentations, and trying to do one-to-ones. Which is why BNI has been great. If you’re looking to grow your business, it’s a great opportunity.
However, Gerszberg’s allegiances lay a tad beyond cutting deals and closing sales; he continually circles back to how much he revels in bringing happiness to his customers, “It’s nice to see a customer with a big smile on their face.” he gushes. The wishes of those in need of an office space tailored to their needs, and budget, are his to grant—and Gerszberg does so with clear, unflagging joy.
Moreover, he had a few hearty words of wisdom to impart to a new member of BNI, or someone who is contemplating joining BNI, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for most categories. Stick it out, it’s hard at first. Don’t expect people to come to you, put yourself out there,” he advises. “You really have to stay on people to get that one-to-one: be persistent. Certain categories are harder than others to get referrals to. Other categories are much easier.”
When requested to reveal something about himself that no one else knows, Gerszberg had this to say, “Well, some people know everything about me, my hobbies. I’m into music and motorcycles,” When asked street or dirt, he laughs—answering, “Street, I’m not into the dirt. Pre-kids, my wife and I—we’ve been to Nashville, ridden up to Canada. Drove around the Grand Canyon and have been around a lot of national parks.” He finishes with, “My philosophy is, ‘If you smell horse crap or cow crap, you’re on a good road.” A man of many talents, he can also be found regularly playing gigs with his bluegrass band.
Gerszberg’s story is empirical proof that your business can be profitable without losing your creative spark or core values; striking out into sales was a risk, but by David Gerszberg pairing his quick mind with BNI’s networking power—his dream career became his everyday reality.