Ron Stokes – President & CEO at Three Leaf Productions, Inc

We welcome former Ohio State University Buckeye basketball great, radio sports broadcaster, and entrepreneur Ron Stokes.

Ron talks a bit about what it was like to be a part of OSU basketball during his time on the team.

So when you go there to play basketball, you’re definitely going to be looked at and watched. Every day you’re on TV, you’re on the radio. And so you have to make sure that you’re taking care of your business, right? Make sure that you’re doing what you need to do as a student-athlete. And you don’t want to do anything to embarrass mom and dad back home. So you had to really make sure that you’re doing the right thing.

Heartland Bank, with the help of Ron, jumped on the NCAA’s commitment to allow name, image, and likeness opportunities for student-athletes. As Ron states…

I’m excited that there’s a number of athletes who are taking advantage of that all over the country and specifically Ohio State (University). Everybody wins in that if it’s done the right way.

As a student-athlete, Ron was lucky to find a very effective mentor. He talks about how that helped him to become an entrepreneur and why he is doing the things he’s doing today.

Doug Simson, from First City Bank, gave me some guidance in terms of what I needed to do and my development not only as an athlete but as a person. This set the foundation for what I’m doing today. Because as a business owner, a great banking relationship is one of the most important things you need as you grow as a business.

2022 will be Ron’s 25th anniversary as an Ohio State University Basketball on-air radio analyst. He learned early on as a student-athlete that you’re going to have to talk to the media. So it comes naturally for him to “talk and articulate my thoughts.” After he graduated from Ohio State, the station (WBNS Radio) called him and asked him to do some interviews from time to time. That led to pre and post-game positions. And then ultimately they offer him the position to be the analyst. He took it and “I haven’t looked back.”

Ron is the President & CEO of Three Leafs Production, Inc., and Vice President of Operations at LARS, LLC. He’s proud to have his family intertwined in the business.

We had what we call family board meetings, where we would sit down at a table and have real discussions about life and supporting each other and whatever. And so once we were looking at creating LARS, we sat down with the kids and asked would you like to be a part of this? And they all said yes, and that’s how it all started. So we have regular board meetings with that company. And they are actively involved with the decision-making. And it’s really exciting.

What are some of the headwinds that you’re facing in your business within Three Leaf Productions and LARS?

You have to evolve your business to make sure that you’re still relative. And then you can bring value propositions to your client. So I think the biggest challenge in any business, and especially ours, is that we got to continue to evolve, continue to find ways to help our clients, understand our customers, and make sure that we’re bringing value to them.

What would you say to people out there who are early in their career that maybe don’t have a mentor?

Try to get around people that have the same goals in terms of wanting to be successful. Not that you’re judging anyone, right? But you want to get around people who want to be successful. And people who get excited when you’re winning.

Ron is now into his second year as a Heartland Bank board member in 2022. He and his businesses are Heartland Bank customers, and when he had the opportunity to be a part of it in a bigger way, “I was just so excited.” He speaks about his goals as being a bank board member, including…

I was very fortunate because my first mentor was a banker. Sure. So I already had a banking relationship, but there’s a lot of small businesses, especially diverse companies that don’t have those relationships. I talked with Scott about making sure that in my role that we have some type of vehicle or some type of strategy to help those small, diverse companies.

The Driving the Cbus podcast co-hosts, Scott McComb, CEO of Heartland Bank, and Kailyn Bucklew (McComb), a third-generation community banker, offer two different perspectives as they sit down and get real with local business owners. From well-established companies to startups, small businesses are the heart and soul of Columbus. Tune in to find out how it all began, what keeps them up at night – the current struggles they face, and what successes they are most proud of with some entertaining stories along the way.