Nearly two years ago, Matt Wiedenhoeft ’13 was approached by his friend about starting a business unlike any other business in Grand Rapids – a Roller Hockey League. As a former hockey player and risk taker, he jumped on board! Now, co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League (NRHL), Matt is leading the way in this growing sport in America. Learn more about the NRHL and Matt’s journey below.
Q & A with Matt Wiedenhoeft ‘13
Tell us about yourself, Matt.
I grew up playing inline hockey at my parents’ roller skating rink prior to playing ice hockey. I played hockey for Muskegon Community College after high school, where I met my wife, Gina, who was attending MSU. After winning a National Championship in 2003 with MCC, I played professional minor league hockey starting with attending training camp with the Muskegon Fury. I remember traveling for hockey and missing my family so much that it came to a point where I realized I wanted to switch from playing hockey to coaching. I tried to find a “real job” and couldn’t because I didn’t finish my college degree. That was my motivation! I returned to school to obtain my BBA while coaching my first minor league hockey team. I did homework while driving back and forth from away games on the bus. Everyone was worried that I would quit school for hockey, but they didn’t realize how important obtaining my degree had become to my future success. I graduated from Davenport with my masters from the Strategic Management program in 2013. Now, I am a co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League and president and founder of PALANO Consulting. I also teach business courses at Davenport as an adjunct.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I am business owner, professor, business consultant, coach, dad and husband.
Tell us about the Roller Hockey League.
My partner, Robert Clouston and I created the National Roller Hockey League in November 2014. Robert had the idea and brought me in to help establish the league. As a serial entrepreneur, I loved the idea, so I jumped on. The NRHL is similar to ice hockey, but with inline hockey skates. We have four original franchises– the Detroit Bordercats, Detroit Stars, Shelby Surge, Motor City Revive. The NRHL made the transition to professional, during the 2014 off-season – making the decision to have ‘paid’ players in Season 2. It is the first time players receive checks since the end of RHI in 1999. The pay-structure is not making millionaires, but it is one step closer to expanding the league throughout the USA.
What is a serial entrepreneur?
A risk taker. Someone who always comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.
What other businesses have you started?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so starting businesses is in my blood. I started a business consulting company, PALANO Consulting, in 2012 to help small business with sales, management, marketing, digital strategies, and much more.
What is your dream job?
Business Maker. President. CEO. Whatever I can do to lead and help people.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with my kids Landon, Noelle and Paxton and my beautiful wife, Gina. And, of course, coaching hockey.