Q&A: Chris Hoffman with Clenzoil
Our friend Stephanie Ray introduced us to Chris Hoffman and the Clenzoil team. It didn't take much banter for us to figure out we really like what these guys are all about: Making quality products in the USA for some of the finest people on the planet—our service men and women. It goes beyond just military and police, though. Clenzoil has a cult-like following among us civilians, too. With nearly a 70-year track record, and being veteran founded and still veteran-owned today, we're not sure how you can't support the Clenzoil crew.
Chris Hoffman is the President of Clenzoil, and spends most of his days spreading the word about their great products. The guy is busy, moving from tradeshow to tradeshow. We recently got the chance to catch up with him, and wow, what an interview. We came away with inspiring stories, such as:
After watching his brothers in arms get injured and perish in combat due to their firearms malfunctioning, Captain Lenz made it his own personal mission to develop a product that would prevent that from ever happening again. That product was Clenzoil.
It doesn't stop there. Check it out.
GoWild: What’s your story as an outdoorsman?
Chris Hoffman: Ever since I was young, I have had a strong passion for being in the woods, on the water, and doing anything outdoors. I grew up on 60 acres in the outskirts of Tampa, so I was always outside doing something. Whether that meant hunting, fishing, riding dirt bikes and ATVs, or shooting just for fun, it was an almost daily part of my life growing up. As I moved away to college, I got more involved in hunting and shooting sports as I had more access to land, and friends with hunting leases in Alabama and Florida. I would say that my college years are when my story as an outdoorsman truly began.
GoWild: How did that story lead you to Clenzoil?
Chris: In all honesty, I was very fortunate to find Clenzoil and the opportunity kind of fell into my lap. I went to school to be a civil engineer and started out in that career I graduated. During my free time as a civil engineer here in Tampa, I was working with my mentor, James Albritton, on a few projects to gain some new experience outside the realm of engineering. In 2015, James came to me and told me that he had purchased Clenzoil and needed someone to help him revitalize the brand and get the company up and running again. He offered me the job, I put in my two weeks notice the next day, and haven’t looked back since.
GoWild: So Clenzoil is veteran owned, and made in the USA—that’s something to be proud of. But we’re curious: What else makes you proud about your company?
Chris: Clenzoil is more than just an incredible product; It is an incredible story. We are unbelievably proud to have a product that has been around for almost 70 years. But even more important is the reason that it was created by Captain Lenz in the first place. The formulation of Clenzoil was a passion project for Captain Lenz, who had become a chemist following his service in the Army in World War II. After watching his brothers in arms get injured and perish in combat due to their firearms malfunctioning, Captain Lenz made it his own personal mission to develop a product that would prevent that from ever happening again. That product was Clenzoil. The fact that we have been blessed with an opportunity to carry out Captain Lenz’s mission and bring his product to the prominence that it truly deserves is what makes me most proud about this company.
GoWild: What’s the biggest difference between Clenzoil and the other guys?
Chris: Well, my previous answer is certainly one of the biggest differences between Clenzoil and “the other guys.” There aren't many tried and true products out there that can say they’ve been around for almost 70 years. On the performance side of the product, Clenzoil has always been known as the one-step solution for Lock, Stock & Barrel. So regardless of what kind of firearm you’re looking to clean and maintain, Clenzoil is your answer. Wood stocks, polymers, plastics, rubber grips, camo coatings, cerakote, and even gold inlays… Clenzoil can be used on all of them while still working to break down all the build up and contaminants inside the firearm. I like to tell people that Clenzoil takes the guess work out of gun cleaning.
GoWild: What’s the one thing you’d want a stranger to know about your company?
Chris: I would want them to know how much work goes into making this product and where it comes from. Every bottle of Clenzoil that is sitting on one of our dealer’s shelves is blended and bottled right here in our facility in Tampa. We don’t purchase industrial solvents and oils then repackage them as firearms solvents and lubricants. We follow an incredibly specific formulation requiring multiple components to produce this product and bottle it right here in house. I think there is something to be said for that. This formulation has been the same for the entirety of the company and was designed specifically for firearms. It wasn’t until later that we discovered some of the other uses for the product and developed our newest Marine & Tackle product line.
GoWild: What’s your favorite thing to do in the outdoors?
Chris: This has definitely changed over time, but I would have to say that one of my favorite things to do in the outdoors right now is sporting clays. I think I like it so much because it’s the shooting sport most similar to bird hunting, but you can do it year round. Key word being “can” because it’s pretty brutal to get out there in the Florida summer sometimes, but I still do as much as I can.
GoWild: Why are you excited to partner with us?
Chris: I’m excited to partner with GoWild for a couple reasons but I think the biggest one is the fact that it is another place for outdoorsmen and women to connect, share, and learn. We have seen time and time again how great the people in this industry are. We’ve been able to connect with a great deal of them on social media, but having one central place where we can interact with these folks is great and we look forward to taking advantage of that.
GoWild: If you had only one choice for the rest of your life—to hunt or fish—which would you choose?
Chris: That’s the toughest question so far but I think I would have to go with fishing. There’s something about being out on the water that is just so peaceful and calming. Plus, here in Florida, we have some really good eatin’ fish and I’m a sucker for good seafood.