Gene Mitchell, VU alumnus, joined the Villanova community for a conversation on Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship including:
- Being and intrapraneur as Director of Trade at Koch Carbon
- The Running Company Story – founding the company, growing the stores, and the recent acquisition by Finish Line
- Local Restaurateur – resurrecting Kelly’s, opening Flip and Bailey’s and the Garret Hill Ale House.
Gene Mitchell has had some challenges, struggles but a lot of success.
A native of Montvale NJ graduated from Pascack Hills HS in 1985 and left for Villanova University that fall. Majoring in accounting with some very good mentoring from professors such as Professor Gerald Dougherty he earned his degree in 1989. As a walk on the track team he finished a disrespectable last in the 1987 Big East outdoor Track and Field Championships. Four years later and after earning a track scholarship Gene won that same Big east Championship title in the Steeple Chase at Villanova Stadium. In 2008 Gene qualified for the Olympic marathon trials by running 2 hours twenty minutes at the Chicago marathon. He finished his academics with an MBA from Temple University in 1995.
After graduation and accepting a job in NY for an accounting firm the realization was that NY was not the place for him. Quitting after 2 weeks and returning to the Villanova area he found that jobs were scarce during the early recession of the 1990’s. Continuing his running and painting houses for the better part of two years was humbling and rewarding. After several experiments on the job front Gene landed at a small international trading company in Philadelphia. Later he joined the team at Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the world, and is the Director of International trade for solid oil products covering the world and managing the international offices in India, Brazil, China, Chile and South Africa.
During this tenure Gene’s passion for real estate investing also developed as his continued passion for running. His first running store opened in 1999 in Princeton, NJ. The business grew to 19 stores stretching from Boston to Texas and was topping $20 million in annual sales. The business was sold to the Finish Line Corporation in 2011.
Also during the same time Gene acquired properties in the area and developed condominiums in Haverford now known as Haverford Crossing on Lancaster Avenue. This real estate development project was the genesis for the acquisition, development and re-opening of the Kelly’s. Today the company also owns and operates Flip & Bailey’s and The Garrett Hill Ale House.