We had the good fortune of connecting with PHILIP LINSSEN and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi PHILIP, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Our business was born out of a community that started in 1975. However, the early years for the ice rink weren’t easy and the whole enterprise was largely a passion project of the previous owners. My brother and I were involved in managing the rink and saw an opportunity in 2000 to invest and build a successful business with that groundwork, which illustrates the importance of looking for opportunities around you. We focused our energy on creating a real community and family environment, making sure all the business divisions – family fun, hockey sports, skating, and the Sports shop – worked together to provide the community youth and adults a venue that was centered around having fun, and learning. It’s always been incredibly important to us that San Diego Ice Arena is a facility for youth to grow physically and mentally, while providing opportunities for the community to participate in the many facets of a business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
San Diego Ice Arena is a multi-purpose, one-surface ice rink in Mira Mesa, San Diego. When we took over the ice rink in 2000, it was operating fairly inefficiently and the future looked uncertain. I’m a finance person and my brother is a mechanical engineer, so we joined forces to turn around the business, even though neither of us can skate particularly well. However, I think our superpower is in our deep understanding of business fundamentals, which led us to focus on long term cost cutting opportunities and building a strong foundation of programs to stabilize operating costs and revenue. Poor cost management is what causes most ice rinks to fail because they’re incredibly costly to maintain, especially in warm-weather climates like San Diego. First, we focused on investments to manage our costs to a fraction of industry standards, such as investing early in implementing solar power, investing in improvements to compressor efficiencies, LED lighting, white roofs, and advanced water conservation strategies. These all seem minor, but they have a significant impact and we even won an innovation award from SDGE along the way! The other challenge for ice rinks is cyclical revenue because people get really excited around Olympic years and then drop off. To ensure consistent revenue, we invested in partnerships with the community, such as creating a camp program for all the San Diego YMCA, Boy and Girls clubs, and fundraising programs with local schools. One of the partnerships we’re proudest of is that every year around the holidays, the San Diego Ice Arena manages and operates the RADY CHILDREN’S outdoor ice rink, for the benefit of the cancer patients. Our whole philosophy is that our business exists in the ecosystem of our community and we can’t be successful without a strong community around us; it’s important to us that the business gives back more than it takes to be successful.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As in all businesses, San Diego Ice Arena is lucky that there are some incredible visionaries on our team. For the past 40 years, Wendy Smith, our Skating Director, has grown our skating programs immensely. She has seen kids grow up through the school, participate in competitions, go to college and skate on synchronized teams, become coaches, start families, and help new young kids dream big. Craig Sterling, the head of the Hockey division, is responsible for creating star hockey players, teaching teamwork and team discipline and the making of true National hockey league players. Together, Wendy and Craig built world-class programs and recruited incredible talent to San Diego Ice Arena, leading our divisions to great success. In addition to high caliber sports, Christopher Scheurman leads our Family Fun Center, creating incredible opportunities for the community, from immersive birthday experiences to engaging public skating sessions to effortless fundraisers. In all these efforts, we’re supported by an incredible staff, many of whom start their first jobs with us!
owners Philip and Mark Linssen