Fred Potthoff, Co-founder, Kroff Inc.

Fred Potthoff, Co-founder, Kroff Inc.

FINALIST / MANUFACTURING

Fred Potthoff knows firsthand the power of establishing relationships. As a young pharmaceutical salesman, his career was propelled upward when a parking attendant he’d gotten to know at one of his call sites was asked for advice on filling a sales position. That attendant recommended Potthoff, and he secured the job.

Potthoff has incorporated this lesson of maintaining and developing relationships into the business he co-founded in 1988 — Kroff Inc., based in Pittsburgh. He has since grown the company — at an average annual growth rate of 24 percent — by developing relationships with and empowering his 70-person staff.

To nurture strong relationships with employees, Potthoff first ensures a good fit by being involved in the hiring process. He offers highly competitive salaries to attract and retain topnotch sales candidates with degrees in chemical engineering and provides uncapped commissions to his sales team.

The strength of his associate relationships can be seen in the geographic growth of the company, in addition to revenue. Kroff has become a holding company encompassing eight businesses — most developed by Kroff employees who saw a new market opportunity.

Potthoff and his partner gave them the opportunity to run their “business within a business,” and this trust has paid off with the expansion of projects to Japan, Europe, Africa and South America.

Its continued diversification led the company to being voted into Pittsburgh’s 100 fastest-growing private companies for 2010.

Kroff companies provide an array of products and services for customized chemical, engineering and technology solutions, optimizing environmental, manufacturing and water treatment processes by reducing downtime and meeting the regulatory requirements of customers.

Outside of Kroff, Potthoff has done extensive volunteer work and serves on several boards and donates to Urban Impact and The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

HOW TO REACH: Kroff Inc., www.kroff.com

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