Photography by Julie SaariRyan T.
Bemidji Regional Event Center
An entrepreneur, a businessman, and a whiz in sales and marketing, Ryan Thomas represents “The Best of Bemidji”. Founder of The Best of Bemidji quarterly mail circular, he is a man about town. You can find him networking, stopping in on sales calls and checking out business opportunities around town. Or possibly stopping in for a cup of coffee which just might be his fuel. Confident, friendly, and outgoing are the first three words that come to mind when I think of Ryan.
Let’s see what you think of him:
I have a funny feeling that my “Bemidji story” is not unlike that of others.
I came through sheer apathy, but I stayed for the everything — the people, the nature and the culture. Oh, and definitely the hockey.
A very good friend, who graduated from high school one year earlier than me, came to Bemidji State and that was all I needed to apply there, too. Whether through a clerical error, or not, I was somehow admitted.
I also was admitted at my more “hometown” North Dakota State, but never bothered to apply for housing there until I heard they had no dorm space left. This despite the fact that my girlfriend was hellbent on attending NDSU, too. Oops.
So, I moved 100 miles from home to Bemidji, biding my time until I could transfer to NDSU. I kept saying this to myself up through my second junior year. After that, I’d lose too many credits to graduate college in a timely fashion.
After another year and a half of BSU, I left town to pursue a full time career in Brainerd. From there the plan was to put in a couple years, move up the career ladder to the Twin Cities, then conquer the world.
It was that simple.
Just shy of two years in Brainerd, I was wearing my welcome thin and there was an opportunity for career advancement back in Bemidji, so I veered a bit from the plan and came back.
I can honestly say Bemidji State hockey, which had just jumped up to Division I, was what sold me on returning.
I quickly burned bridges at the new job and was unemployed in short order. In my defense, though, telling one of your bosses to perform an impossible sex act on himself was not covered in the employee handbook.
A hasty job search unveiled (Trumpet fanfare, please) a job in the Cities. The night I left behind my beautiful wife, puppy and new home for this notch on the résumé, I cried like a baby the whole time.
That was my “A Ha!” moment. Bemidji was home. Not the flat, treeless Red River Valley. Not soulless Maple Grove North (Brainerd). But the place I’d spent my adult life trying to escape.
Sometimes you need to get kicked in the face to really open your eyes to all that you have.
My weekly commutes over the next few months showed me something: there’s no bumper-to-bumper stop and go traffic into the cities on Sunday nights and Monday mornings, but it’s a bloodbath getting out every Friday.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but yeah I found another job back home — Bemidji, in case you haven’t been paying attention — not at all in my field, but one I enjoy that let’s me commiserate with the best of Bemidji’s wide array of personalities.
Bemidji, thank you for everything.
PS That girlfriend of mine who went to NDSU? She moved up here for college and wisely married me. But that’s another story unto itself.
written by Ryan Thomas
Pics by Julie Saari