Class of 2019 Success Stories: BGSU marketing major launched his own ice cream business as a sophomore

Tyler McCann credits College of Business faculty for becoming a successful entrepreneur

By Sharmaine Wills

Tyler McCann is graduating from Bowling Green State University this December, but he already has blazed an entrepreneurial trail by applying what he has learned about operating a business even before he walks across the commencement stage.

As a sophomore, McCann and family friend Johnny Curtis acquired a shuttered dairy located in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio, northeast of Columbus. He has successfully turned the dairy processing plant, named Round Hill Dairy, into one of the top ice cream shops in Knox County in just two years.

McCann, who majored in marketing, said he successfully runs his business through his hard work ethic, love for business and family support.

In 2018, he started his business as a sophomore at BGSU, showing his dedication by driving home every weekend from March until May to be able to open his dream business to the public in only three months. McCann’s family and friends have been so helpful; it has guided him through every obstacle along the way. He also credited the College of Business for transforming him from a student into a successful business owner and entrepreneur.

“It’s great to be able to bounce around real ideas with your professors,” said McCann, who has a huge love for ice cream and a passion for entrepreneurship. “It’s just not book content. Rather, it’s definitely a different learning experience when you have your own business. Starting my sophomore year, I had to learn to kind of separate the two because I wanted the business to take over my whole life. Owning a business is very time consuming, which made me really focus and budget my time..”

McCann said Round Hill recently expanded by selling ice cream products at four Mount Vernon locations: Smithhisler Meats, Warrior Pizza & Ice Cream, Knox Community Hospital and the Laurels of Mount Vernon.

In addition to owning an ice cream business, he obtained his auctioneering degree from Missouri Auction School in St. Louis last summer and plans to apprentice under an auctioneer and start his own auction company. He also accepted a sales job working for Ag-Pro in Mount Vernon selling John Deere farm equipment and machinery.

“I came to BGSU for my first visit and seeing all of the farmland really made it feel like home. Having that big school feel but that small, in-class customization with your professors and forming those life-changing relationships made me feel welcomed,” said McCann, who attended Mount Vernon High School. “I felt that was something I could get here more than any other university in Ohio. I’m glad I made that decision because I did make those close, personal relationships with faculty and staff here, which changed my life forever”

McCann heard the phrase “I’ll find a way” his first day on campus, and it changed his life. During freshmen orientation, Dr. Gene Poor, the Hamilton Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership, gave the First Lecture to the incoming freshmen. At BGSU, McCann said he gained relationships with business professors and is forever grateful for their encouragement, willingness to help and dedication to always make him better.

“Dr. Poor has influenced and inspired so many lives here at BGSU throughout his career,” McCann said. “I have learned a lot from him, and appreciate his guidance and generosity during my time here. He always told us to put a professor in your life and a mentor that will shape the life you want to live. If I would not have done those things, it is hard telling where I would be today. In the world of business, I am a firm believer it’s not just what you know, but who you know. My time at BGSU was filled with many academic successes, but the true, life-changing experiences came from my friends and mentors I made along the way.”

Dr. Phil Titus, associate professor of marketing, also had an effect on McCann.

Titus helped him think outside the box from the first day of class. After several office visits about assignments, McCann and Titus began to share life stories and business ideas, commencing a strong mentorship.

“Office hours are not just for asking questions about class and the assignments," McCann said. "Use that time to build lifelong bonds with people that think different than you. It will make you think in ways you have never thought of before.”

"Dr. Poor has influenced and inspired so many lives here at BGSU throughout his career"

“Tyler is truly one of the most ambitious, personable and gifted students I have had the pleasure to work with here at BGSU," Titus said. "He embodies all the qualities that you would hope to find in every BGSU student. More importantly, he is simply a genuinely kind and generous person. Tyler is precisely the type of student that makes teaching such a rewarding and satisfying profession. I couldn’t be more excited and happy to see him pursue his entrepreneurial passion. I wish him all the best."

This past summer, Titus and his wife, Jeanne, traveled to McCann’s ice cream shop to check it out. McCann was delighted to show them around the store while sharing stories on how his adventure started.

“It was amazing to see one of my professors at my business,” McCann said. “Talking in class about a business you are starting is one thing, but having them visit allowed me to open up and share my knowledge and learning experience I gained thus far.”

When he was a sophomore, McCann wasn’t sure where to begin when it came to starting and owning a business. It was Poor’s in-class activities and assignments that helped prepare McCann to start his business, and the conversations in his office sealed the deal.

If he had a question, a problem or a concern for what would be best for the business, McCann said, “I went to Dr. Poor. Not only did Dr. Poor give me advice outside the classroom, but he helped me become a better speaker by sharing my story to help inspire other college students. After forming a lifetime relationship with Gene, I was able to take my story and help motivate other BGSU students to follow their dreams. Through these presentations, I came across some amazing students who are well on their way to living their dream before they graduate.”

The key motivator that led McCann to run his own business was the mindset that he wanted to be his own boss someday. He always tells people, “If you do something you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”

That outlook also helped drive him while enrolled at BGSU.

“It was especially rewarding to attend Bowling Green State University because I had all of the faculty and staff behind me, helping me get where I needed to go," McCann said. "The real-life examples obtained from owning a business have just added a whole new layer to my education and outlook on life. I wish that’s something every student could experience, and truly see how it can help shape their collegiate career and their life. I started college by completing assignments that really had no meaning or connection to me other than fulfilling marketing class requirements. But I ended college by taking those assignments and seeing how they could relate to my business and help shape it into something bigger and better.

"Being able to put aside the typical college social theme of partying and really focus on the education led to my success. Too many people are just living and thinking about the present life they are in. That is neither good nor bad, but I believe you have to work toward the future and the goals you have set forth. The world is full of opportunity, and you have to want something bad enough to sacrifice everything for the unknown. A large part of being an entrepreneur and thinking differently is that the outcome is unknown. We dedicate our lives to our dreams and goals, all while living blindfolded as we cannot see our successes until they are reached."