I love entrepreneurs – filled with ideas, passion, grit and endless possibilities. So, I was extremely excited to meet up with Cliff Rucker who is an entrepreneur many times over. His most recent endeavor, starting up the new minor league hockey team in Worcester, is just the tip of the iceberg. Cliff is not only bringing hockey back to Worcester, but anything you can imagine that goes along with it – a fan-focused restaurant, two additional ice rinks, retail shops to support the facility, and more.
When I showed up at Railers headquarters to meet with Cliff and Eric Lindquist, the VP of marketing and communications, they were tweaking the logo that would appear at center ice. I knew right then that Cliff was not the type of CEO to sit in his office barking orders. He was in it up to his elbows: working and loving every second of it!
I asked Cliff why he chose to start up a hockey team here in Central Mass when he has other very successful businesses (and a life) happening in the Boston area. While he loves hockey and is a huge fan, he said what really drove him to take on this project was the opportunity to do something really meaningful. To be successful “you’ve got to be entrenched in the community,” he explained. The team, restaurants, ice facilities and his other related businesses are filling a void. It’s not just about the game, it’s about meeting the needs of the people in the region.
As we talked about his personal brand, it was clear that while Cliff has big dreams, his feet are firmly planted on a foundation of hard work. Cliff explained that the best thing about going to work every day is simply the blessing of being able to go to work. Having the health, capability, energy, and opportunity to work is what he is most thankful for. When I talked about how he gets his vision out to his people, he stated, “I see a visionary as a guy that rolls up his sleeves, gets out in the trenches, meets with constituents, meets with people and gets the work done.”
Cliff also mentioned that part of his approach was taking the long view. Being able to look at things from the big picture and knowing that actions today need to last beyond just next week. More important than all of his businesses, however, are his children. He hopes to leave a lasting legacy to his kids of being a good father. When I asked Cliff if he were a famous brand, which one would he be and why. He cited Mallowmars which are made with graham crackers and marshmallow dipped in chocolate, “I’m hard on the outside, soft on the inside."
For the full interview, click here.