Location: Jessup, MD
Industry: Food service distribution
President and CEO
Lois Gamerman has a knack for selling. She began her entrepreneurial career buying used soft serve and frozen yogurt machines and reselling them for a profit. Soon she found a niche selling locally made cheesecakes and expanded into other gourmet, frozen desserts. Today, Soft Stuff Distributors, Inc. specializes in breads, desserts, ice cream, hors d’oeuvres, soups, bagels, catering items and specialty items.
Fun Fact: Last year, Gamerman and Soft Stuff “adopted” Deerfield Run Elementary School in Laurel, facilitating partnerships with educators and sponsoring initiatives.
Gamerman’s firm prides itself on customer service. “We recognized a long time ago that if you make it difficult for people to do business with you, they go away,” she says. “And if enough go away, you have no business.”
Gamerman faced a difficult challenge in 2004, when she determined that her operations manager and her lead driver were embezzling money from the company. She spent the next 18 months building an ironclad case against them with the Howard County police and state’s attorney, resulting in five years of jail time for the offenders. The ordeal took time away from her business and family, but ultimately made her a better business leader. “Somebody can steal your money, but as long as they don’t steal your customers, your product lines or your relationships, you can recover,” she says. “It helped me understand what I needed to do to lock down certain processes.”