5 Questions with Ross Horner: Creating memorable experiences for Columbus

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comApril 27, 2014 

Mike Haskey/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.comRoss Horner, director of the Columbus Civic Center and Ice Rink, praises his staff for the method in which they run the facilities.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

What is the best part of your job as director of the Columbus Civic Center?

For starters, the people make this job ... from our staff to our patrons. We have the best tenants in the Lions and Cottonmouths; everybody works as a team player to be the best for our customers. We are in the business of creating memorable experiences. How much more fun can that be? This job is fun and I am truly honored to be a part of the team that makes it happen.

What's the most challenging part of running a venue like the Civic Center?

My answer may change weekly -- but much of it boils down to perception and programming. Our staff is on a journey to change the way we do business, and although that can be challenging at times we are all up to it. We are looking at our capital improvements in a creative way -- along with what our role is in the community. The staff has a sense of where we need to be and are great problem solvers -- I couldn't be more proud of the way they run the facilities, which allows me to concentrate on the challenges of perception and programming the facilities.

You moved here from North Dakota. This winter hasn't been a bad thing, has it?

You will never hear me complain about the winter, though no one was lying when they warned me the city "shuts down" whenever it snows. Having to cancel shows, and reschedule others, due to a few inches of snow was certainly amusing to some friends up north -- but I quickly added back that you have to experience it to understand.

We ask everyone who does this interview what is the best concert they ever attended. Since part of your job revolves around concerts, what is the worst one you ever saw?

I always say, "There are no bad shows, only bad deals." It is a little different perspective, but there is always going to be someone who likes a show or doesn't like it for various reasons. I look at the business side of many shows and hope that there is a balance between expenses and expected revenues. It is certainly a gamble and margins are always tight, but financial success is one of the best ways to ensure programmatic success for the community.

What is the best kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

The Columbus Ice Rink (adjacent to the Civic Center) is only closed approximately five days per year. The Columbus Hockey Association hosts "Try Hockey for Free" weekly, and there is figure skating at a nominal cost. Every Tuesday and Thursday the rink holds "Cheap Skate" public skating for only $3 -- and other public skates on Thursday-Sunday. And, did I mention that the arena is home to the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame? Well, you asked ...

BIO

Ross Horner

Age: 45

Job: Director, Columbus Civic Center & Ice Rink

Hometown: Fargo, N.D. -- Oh ya, you betcha!

Current home: Columbus; Eagle & Phenix Condos

Family: Wife, Beth (teacher at Downtown Elementary), Son, Alex (21), Daughter, Phoebe (24), Son-in-Law, Brian, and Grandson, Holden (1)

Education: B.S. North Dakota State University; master's in business administration from the University of Mary

Favorite book: "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

Favorite movie: "Happy Gilmore"

Favorite restaurant: Anything Uptown

Favorite quote: "The very purpose of life is to seek happiness." Dalai Lama

Best concert attended: Blind Boys of Alabama, Carver Cultural Center, San Antonio

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