Thanks For The Memories, Geoff Brown!Comments (0)
Few vendors in Woodcraft’s history have been as colorful or as long-standing as Geoff Brown of Sjöbergs. In May, Woodcraft held its 19th National Sales Conference and Vendor Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, and Geoff Brown has attended every one of them. Geoff and Yvonne, his wife of 55 years, announced their semi-retirement at this year’s event.
Now 77, Geoff has been a long-time sales rep working with Woodcraft with companies like Sjöbergs and Tormek. Sjöbergs of Sweden manufactures top-quality workbenches and accessories that are sold around the world, including at Woodcraft stores, through Woodcraft catalogs and online at woodcraft.com.
Geoff was born in Brighton in the United Kingdom. He spent his whole career in sales and marketing, joining the Mars Corporation as a salesman at age 19. In 1984, Geoff and Yvonne founded their own marketing company with the focus on the woodworking market, representing mainly German, Swedish, US and Canadian companies. Sjöbergs Export Manager Ulf Graffman (pictured with Geoff and Yvonne above) stated, “Geoff has been working for Sjöbergs for more than 30 years, dealing with all the English speaking countries, which is quite a few! He has been a fantastic and important person for Sjöbergs on the export market and still is.” Over the years, Geoff and Yvonne have worked in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and North America.
Woodcraft president Jody Garrett was actually a product manager when the partnership with Geoff began in the early ʼ90s. “Through Woodcraft, Geoff and I have known each other for many years,” Jody stated. “Long term business relationships like this are uncommon, but our relationship speaks very highly of Geoff and his approach to business. While it is always ‘business,’ for Geoff it was also personal. Geoff brought a high level of personal engagement, passion and devotion to the Woodcraft partnership on a daily basis. The energy he brought to the partnership allowed each side to prosper over the years.”
“Geoff is one of the hardest working reps I’ve seen,” said Woodcraft product manager Kent Harpool. “Not only does he work with purpose, he is creative, innovative and has fun. He has served his family, employees, and companies he represents very well over the years.”
That creativity shined through at each annual Woodcraft vendor trade show, when Geoff could always be counted on to arrive with props or in costume, differing from year to year depending on his promotions. His repertoire has included everything from a Viking in 2005 to promote the Sjöbergs Elite workbenches (plus an obligatory taking a “shot of Swedish fire water” for everyone who joined in the drinking song) to full winter attire in the middle of June 2007.
Yvonne shared some memories from their earlier years working in the States, “When we first started in the USA, we travelled for two months exclusively on standby airline tickets and we flew almost every day! We were only bumped off one flight!”
Yvonne relayed another story that happened about 16 years ago: “In order to visit all of the customers including the Woodcraft stores, we made a continuous 17,500-mile road trip around the whole USA covering 36 states over a period of 14 weeks.” The map showing that route can be seen behind Geoff and Yvonne in the picture above with Ulf.
Working together for 31 years could be challenging for some couples, but Yvonne shared that having similar as well as separate interests were important. They have two sons and two granddaughters in the UK, while their daughter lives in Virginia, with two daughters and one son who was born in the US.
Though Geoff still plans to work two days a week for a little while, he and Yvonne hope to travel more for pleasure than for work in the future. He also serves as the chairman of their condo association, which keeps him busy. “Our business life has been a roller coaster adventure, a lot of fun and a real privilege,” she said.
“We will surely miss Geoff’s smiling face and enthusiasm,” said Jody Garrett. “We wish him the best as he enters this next phase of his career.”
Woodcraft extends a huge congratulations to Geoff on his retirement, along with many thanks for all the years of partnership!
Photo below from the Woodcraft “Surfin’ USA” after-party 2016. From left: Stig Reitan, Tormek; Rosa Houston, Kreg Tool; Yvonne Brown; Geoff Brown; Ulf Graffman.
Congratulations, Geoff and Yvonne Brown!
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