April 2014

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Executive Spotlight 18 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | April 2014 and general inquisitiveness into a solid early career. That work ended when she and her husband decided to move to New Jersey. Like Moldova, The Garden State is home to vegetable and fruit truck farms but also, of more relevance, to Hoffman Equipment. Within three months, Tumanyan was named Hoffman's marketing director. Though she had learned something about heavy equipment working in New York, it was her international outlook that best served her. "International sales is a very unique profession," she says. "To succeed, you have to understand cross-cultural backgrounds and how minds work overseas." Of course, to sell construction equipment, you also have to know how the machinery works. She systematically began the task of familiarizing herself with the heavy equipment and components of hundreds of U.S. manufacturers. Hoffman coincidentally set up an office in Italy the year Tumanyan arrived in the U.S. The satellite office became a European headquarters for the company and a precursor of sales to Russia, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Global sales now constitute about 20 percent of Hoffman reve- nue; some months perhaps twice that much. Tumanyan is one of three people at Hoffman headquarters dedicated to foreign sales, all of them working under owner and president Tim Watters, who is also AED's 2014 Chairman. Pioneering Executive It is unusual for a woman to play such a central role in global heavy equipment sales. Yet Musya Tumanyan doesn't look at herself as a pioneer but as a successful business executive. "At any given meeting, there will be 10 men and one woman. What I feel the most at these meetings is great pleasure at being able to share my experience in the industry." The fact remains, however, that her gender creates some interesting dynamics. "Musya" is a variation of "Maria," but the name's feminine marker obviously is unrecognized by many of her peers in the industry. (As well as by some business writers: A New Jersey news- paper reporter giving a second-hand account of a 2008 seminar at which Tumanyan spoke at length repeatedly referred to her as "he.") "In working in some countries, many times a customer will come into the room and see me and say, 'I am look- ing for Musya.' I tell them, 'I am Musya.'" Consternation sometimes follows, especially in Muslim countries where business people decline to shake the hand of a woman for religious reasons. But even there, she says, "they eventually compliment me and we do business." In Yunnan Province in China, where Tumanyan had flown to finalize a transaction for Hoffman, her male counterparts in the meeting learned that they could not easily intimidate this woman. She said the dozen Chinese businessmen at the meeting balked over agreed-upon terms of the deal. She pushed back, telling them that they were not at some bazaar where they could "haggle" over a price. Though she couldn't understand Mandarin, she could sense the increasing anger in their voices. When they persisted, she suddenly stood up. "It was such a pleasure to see you," she told the startled buyers. "I am going home now. I can't offer you anything more." Whereupon they caved. Having failed to shake her convic- tion that the price of the equipment was legitimate, they affixed their signatures to a $1.5 million sales agreement. In the U.S., even politically correct peers sometimes are taken back by her position, she says. "It is still seen as a 'good old boys' job, and not a woman's place. But I am respected for my knowledge." Globe-Trotting Executive On an overseas trip in 1998 that included stops in Russia, Shown here at the entrance of the President of Cameroon Palace accompanied by Lt. Emmanuel Sako, Cameroon Ministry of Defense, Musya made sure the country's first 40 machines were delivered in time for the National Day Parade. ("Don't Mess With Musya" continued from page 16) 16_Hoffman_Export_feature_KP.indd 18 3/27/14 4:24 PM

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