Q: How did Becker Arena Products get started?
I started the company in December of 1988 after I found out the company I had been working for was closing their U.S. offices and I would no longer have a job. At the time I had been selling the Olympia Ice Resurfacer and was offered the dealership for the western U.S. I took the opportunity, but that alone was not going to be enough to sustain a business.
I started selling hockey dasher boards for a local dasher board manufacturer and then slowly started building a rink supply/catalog division. As business grew so did our staff, our customer base, and our opportunities. In 1994, we decided to build our own hockey board systems and control our own destiny. We then had the privilege of providing the dasher system for the Olympic men’s hockey venue in Nagano, Japan in 1998. (our claim to fame)
Q: Were you destined to be in this business?
I think I was destined to be a business owner; I feel I have the entrepreneurial spirit and vision. My passion is seeing new ideas come to life as well as building and designing. I love the relationships – working with customers and vendors, and I also enjoy the sports industry culture. My experience working at a local ice rink as an assistant rink manager and Zamboni driver sparked the love for the culture and business-side of this industry. After 2-1/2 years at the ice rink I was recruited to go to work for an ice rink construction company where my passion and experience grew. I did play hockey when I was young and have always loved the sport of hockey.
Q: What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
Staying out of pricing wars with low-cost- providers can be challenging. We focus on building our reputation as a quality and responsible company, we don’t want to be picked just because we were the lowest price, we have more to offer. When necessary, we work with our customers on value engineering ideas to provide the best products for their project and find ways to do everything within their budget.
Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
Ice Rink Construction is seasonal and planning for the busy season (July – November) can be challenging. Everyone wants to be skating at about the same time, so making sure that we can accommodate all customers is a challenge. In the construction business, projects do not always stay on schedule so juggling manufacturing and installation schedules at times becomes very difficult. Planning the proper inventory, the correct workforce and making sure we can make our promised delivery dates is always our #1 priority. Making sure that we communicate with all parties involved is essential.
Q: If you could start over what would you do sooner ….
I would have adopted the EOS Operating system earlier instead of winging it for the first 20 years. The EOS focus is on Vison, People, Process, Data, Issues and Traction. I would recommend it for any new or growing business.
Q: Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling… how do you stay focused or refocus when necessary?
Again, the EOS system has helped to keep the whole company focused including myself. Having an “Integrator” has allowed me to focus on things like product R & D, strategy and technical support for sales, which I find rewarding.
Q: What would you do with $500.00
I would invest in company brand-building and communicating to our customers what differentiates us from our competitors.
Q: Technology, apps software
I am really interested in the 3-D printing technology. I think I could use a 3-D printer to develop some new products I am working on.
Q: If you could start any business today what business would you open?
It would be something that would get me outdoors more. I really enjoy being outside year around. (Or, something I could do part-time as I look forward to retirement someday)
Q: Wrap up, what advice do you have for new business owners just starting out.
Do what you love and love what you do so it is fun…. and surround yourself with people smarter than you.