Serial entrepreneur Ben Riegsecker is the Owner and CEO of The Casselman, a historic bed and breakfast outfitted with a memorable restaurant and bakery. Ben’s success comes from maintaining a healthy work-life balance and his background of excellent work ethic across multiple industries. He’s also passionate about working with young leaders to help guide and challenge them in developing their entrepreneurial skills.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Ben Riegsecker shares his entry to the hospitality industry without any prior experience
- How to improve your team’s atmosphere and environment
- Ben’s insights on mentorship that helped him improve his business
- Hiring strategies for a better team-building experience
In this episode…
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Bela Musits welcomes Ben Riegsecker, Owner and CEO of The Casselman. They discuss the challenges of entering the hospitality industry without prior experience, managing and scaling a business from the ground up, and understanding the value of hiring the right people. Ben goes on to share practices to build respect in a team environment and what mentoring strategies helped him out in the industry.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Bela Musits 0:20
Hello, listeners. I’m the host for this episode of the SpotOn podcast where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part this is part of our SpotOn Series. SpotOn has the best-in-class payment platform for retail. And they have a flagship solution called SpotOn Restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They have served everyone from large chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom-and-pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses get return on investment clients referrals and strategic partnerships through custom done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and want to build a great relationship with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there is no better way to do it than through podcast and content marketing. To learn more, go to rise25.com or email us at email@example.com. Today’s guests for the show is Ben Riegsecker. Ben is a diverse background. He began his career by starting a residential and commercial construction company. Then after selling the business, he managed a nonprofit for three years. After that, he bought his first restaurant, which was five years ago. Now his company owns two restaurants, a motel, a historic in two grocery stores, and a hardware store. Ben is most passionate about working with and mentoring young leaders. His guiding principle is to provide a safe place for people to be challenged and to reach their full potential. Welcome to the podcast, Ben.
Ben Riegsecker 2:11
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Bela Musits 2:13
Sure. It’s wonderful to have you as a guest. So you’ve had quite a journey here. Can you talk a little bit about the beginning and how it all started?
Ben Riegsecker 2:22
Yeah, really what started was, I mean, if you’d take your whole way back to my high school years, and I didn’t know what my problem was, but I couldn’t learn in school. I was terrible at it. And looking back, I definitely have a bad case of dyslexia. So what I ended up doing is I was terrible at it. I don’t tell a lot of people this, but I just dropped out of school and I started working in construction. And, and but I didn’t know how to work I work really hard. I was I was a good worker, and 18 years old, I was the foreman of the crew and things to keep going and 2008 Hit obviously, the construction kind of stopped. So I bought equipment from my, where I worked at the employer, started my own business, and just kind of took off. And I we grew into a lot of different things. We did Commercial Roofing, we did residential housing, and several different crews going and it was a good, it was a journey. I really enjoyed that. But what the thing that I think that I identified in those early years was, I was out there trying to prove to the world that I was successful. I failed at school. So I had this drive that wasn’t very healthy. It affected my family and my it just you it’s not fun when you’re trying to prove that I’m somebody. And so that was kind of the early years. And through that process of finding my identity, I ended up selling the business and refocus for three years on a nonprofit mission. And so that’s, that’s kind of what, what got me going there. I guess the first, my first 10-12 years. Yeah, yeah.
Bela Musits 4:12
Well, you know, owning your own business clearly takes a lot of drive. But it also takes a ton of time. Right. And, and we only have so much time in every day. So you got to make sacrifices someplace and finding that right, right. Balance is a real challenge. And it sounds like you found it.
Ben Riegsecker 4:30
Yeah, I so that’s been a journey for me and I’ve been so. So getting getting through that process of life is was painful is hard on the marriage, my family, but I feel like I’ve really, really got my priorities in check. And to be honest, I’m having a whole lot more fun now. Focusing focusing on people making a difference in my community. And yeah, and it’s under stressful. If you know, it’s not about me, at the end of the day. I mean, I’m gonna do the best I possibly can. But So your identity is not in my work. And if you can separate that it’s been very healthy for us.
Bela Musits 5:06
That’s wonderful. That’s those are some some great thoughts there. And you said that very well. So you’ve worked in like several very diverse industries, right? I mean, construction, versus versus a restaurant versus historic in. So what are the was there like a master plan for that? Or were you just sort of opportunistic as those things came along?
Ben Riegsecker 5:31
Yeah, I think it was, to be honest, I never really was intrigued with the restaurant business I would we work construction. So I’d got eat all the time. And I’d count all these people in the bag. And I’m like, How in the world can you make any money doing restaurant? And I had these people call me and I was when I was when we’re involved in our mission. And they said, Hey, we got this restaurant is I said, I’m not interested. Obviously, I just didn’t, it didn’t interest me. But after them pursuing method, well, we’ll check it out. So I got some friends at new hot new restaurants and said, Hey, I’m willing to give this a try. And they gave me some advice on what to offer, you know, to get this thing started. And, and I couldn’t believe we, we made the deal happen. And it seemed like it was a long shot. And I just remember, when I found out I was buying a restaurant, I just was like, What am I doing? Like, I have no experience, right? Absolutely. I don’t cook.
Bela Musits 6:24
Right. Right. The experience you have is eating in a restaurant,
Ben Riegsecker 6:28
right? So it was interesting, what I did was, what do you do? You know, I was shoot, I’m pro I was probably 33-34 years old. Yeah, five years, you’re 34 years old. And I walk in here one day, and you own a restaurant. And it’s like, everybody’s looking at you. So I, the first day, what I did, I literally went down and I watched it. I just thought I’m gonna just start down here at the bottom of the ladder. Yeah, cleaning. And then we had some meetings with all the team and we got everybody. And just start that you just got to start at the bottom and you got to work. I’m the first one to dig in. I mean, I’m not going to be afraid to get my hands dirty. And they know that and I think that was a big, how do you win the respect of the team when you’re brand new. And I believe it’s hard work and just leading with an example. And so it didn’t take too long there to get the support. I mean, I had vision walking into new place had price 60-70 employees, and I’m like, we’re gonna lose half of them. What am I going to do? It actually worked out. Worst, we have a bakery, we bake all our stuff from scratch down in the down in the lower level of the restaurant. And it’s been it’s been a journey, while learning how to make it work.
Bela Musits 7:51
And now you also have an inn, and it’s a hotel. So how did you get into that business?
Ben Riegsecker 7:58
Well, the we have a hotel, and that’s like, across the street from the restaurant. And then the building that the restaurant is in was built in 1840s. So that we have historic rooms up above with the clawfoot tub fireplace. And wow, people like that historic feeling. So we kind of had that a lot of that wasn’t placed when I bought it. We just are making it better with whether it’s motel, remodeling the rooms and keeping things, keeping things. But that wasn’t I would say the motel was probably the easiest part of the whole. The whole thing, it’s easier to manage. You just got you know, eat up the cleaning staff and the basic stuff with the restaurant industry when it comes to your food cost and your labor and trying to figure out how to when they’ve been doing it. Like just an example the people that had it before us. The staff could eat whatever they wanted, was. And I remember the one I just kept tracking the one kid he’s a dishwasher is four hour shifts 840 $8. So it was like it was like it was just not managed that well. So there’s all this stuff going on, and just going in there and say, Hey, guys, I really appreciate it. But you’re gonna have to pay 50% of your food. Yeah. And just putting some guidelines in place just because it was, you know, it wasn’t making any money obviously when we bought it.