2017-04-20 / Opinion


Jerry Presseller

STEVE LINEBERRY / FLORIDA WEEKLY STEVE LINEBERRY / FLORIDA WEEKLY When it snows, as it does on almost a daily basis during the cold winter months in Minnesota, an enterprising kid can make a few bucks shoveling snow. One morning, when Jerry Presseller was 9 years old, he and a buddy shoveled snow for various businesses. One owner noticed his work ethic and hired him on the spot to sweep and keep his business neat and tidy. Just out of high school, another business owner noticed Mr. Presseller’s go-get-it attitude and hired him to work behind the counter in a restaurant— an opportunity that turned into a 30-year corporate and field management career for Howard Johnson’s restaurants. He now uses those same skills as president of the Downtown Merchants Association, general manager of the Downtown Punta Gorda Farmer’s Market, owner of the North Port Farmer’s Market and owner of the Big Cheese Gourmet Shop. A key to his success? “A desire to serve people,” he said.

¦ Where did you grow up?

St. Cloud, Minnesota.

¦ Where do you live now?

I moved to Punta Gorda in 1982.

¦ What did your parents do for a living?

Dad was the administrative assistant to U.S. Congressman Fred Marshall. Mom was a stay-at-home mom.

¦ What is the greatest lesson your parents taught you?

My parents, particularly my mom, instilled in me a great work ethic. Show up early, work hard and do what you say you are going to do.

¦ What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an accountant.

¦ What do you consider the greatest accomplishment thus far in your life?

I have been married for 46 years to Patty. We were married in 1970 and have three wonderful daughters: Nicole, Stephenie and Julia — and three granddaughters.

¦ Name something most people may not know about you.

I am a member and past Ponce of the Royal Order of Ponce de Leon Conquistadors.

¦ How do you define success?

Staying alive as a small business owner, year after year, in a seasonal retirement-aged community.

¦ What was your worst job?

I managed hundreds of employees in over 132 restaurants. It was like herding cats.

¦ What other interesting or unusual job(s) have you held?

When I was 18 years old, I worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as a file clerk. One of my most interesting jobs was as a soda jerk in a Howard Johnson’s restaurant. That job opened the door for me at Howard Johnson’s.

¦ What attracted you to your current business?

I love cheese! My favorites are Cambozola and Gorgonzola.

¦ Describe yourself in one sentence.

I am a hard worker with high expectations for myself, my staff and my products.

¦ What do you believe is your company’s greatest strength?

We work diligently to serve the public by offering a great product at fair prices in a friendly environment.

¦ What is the best business/professional advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard and treat your customers fairly and honestly.

¦ What do you believe is your greatest strength?

My greatest strength is seeing right from wrong. Whether it is a business decision or a personal decision, doing the right thing will pay huge dividends.

¦ What is the one most important trait every leader should have?

A leader should always be forthright, treating everyone honestly and fairly.

¦ What do you like best about what you do?

What I like best is meeting the wide variety of people and personalities every day and enjoy seeing them happy. It makes being a small business owner fun.

¦ What have you achieved in your profession that you’re most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that we have been able to build a successful, thriving business in a seasonal, retirement aged community. ¦

Jerry Presseller

>> Owner, Big Cheese Gourmet Shop
>> Big Cheese Gourmet Shop
>> 307 Taylor St., Punta Gorda
>> 391-4856
>> jerry@pgdowntownmerchants.com

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