Churning Out Achievement: Bloch Alumnus Becomes Betty Rae's Owner

UMKC alumnus purchases popular local business
Alec Rodgers in front of Betty Rae's

Roos are, in fact, everywhere. Sometimes, they’re in our own backyard making cool treats in the summer heat.

Alec Rodgers (’20) graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in Entrepreneurship and Finance and shortly thereafter found himself owning a Kansas City staple for ice cream: Betty Rae’s. We caught up with Alec for the full scoop on how his UMKC education prepared him for such sweet success.

What is your history with Betty Rae’s? What led you to become the owner?

It was junior year. I realized I’d be graduating the next year and wished I had a more fun job; enjoyed life a bit more. I was doing 60 hours a week, 18 credit hours. It was a lot. My mom went to a shaved-ice truck up north, and they were serving Betty Rae’s ice cream. She brought it home and said “The lady there said they might be hiring.” I said “Well, that sounds like a fun job.” David, then the part-owner, posted a photo of the new wallpaper that day, in the River Market location. I thought it was awesome wallpaper. I knew, whoever that was, I wanted to work for him. I met him the next day, and within the first month I could tell it was so different there. It felt like a family. I was going there to do homework and hang out; making waffle batter at 9 in the morning, just to be there. Everybody wanted to do that, too. I wanted to stay here the rest of my life and scoop ice cream, but I was studying finance and entrepreneurship. I graduated, started working for another company, and in February David and Mary approached me about buying the shop. I immediately said yes and put my two weeks in. It’s been fun.

Alec Rodgers in front of the wallpaper in the River Market location
Alec and the wallpaper that started it all.
What’s your UMKC story?

I actually started at Mizzou. The campus is beautiful. My friends there were amazing. It just wasn’t the culture I wanted, and I quickly realized that. After three weeks, I told my parents “I think I’m going to come home at semester and go to UMKC.” That was a big step for me, personally. So, I came to Kansas City to start at UMKC and loved it. Coming back here was the best decision I ever made. Sophomore year, I moved to England for six months, serving with youth there. It was a lot of fun. I took classes online while doing that, which again was the total opposite of what I thought I wanted to do. I was going to be done in four years, maybe three. Anything that got in the way of that was a distraction. And again, it was one of the best decisions I made. I learned a lot about myself and about people. I came back junior year and finished out here.

Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Enactus was my main extra-curricular. I loved it. Working at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation kept me busy, but it also kept me involved in so many things here on campus and in the city. I would help with the Venture Hub and a few other services Regnier provided.

Employees scoop ice cream at Betty Rae's
Betty Rae scoopers hard at work.
How did your UMKC education prepare you for your career?

Well, the thing I hated the most was group projects. Seriously. I knew I’d get stuck with the work of someone else the night before because they aren’t ready. Expectations wouldn’t match. Some peoples' were way up here and others were down here. That said, those experiences have served me more than anything else. Plus, getting to make connections here in Kansas City, going to school here and staying here, you foster a lot of relationships that I wouldn’t have had staying at Columbia. That’s been a huge advantage. The professors here were and are amazing. I still talk to them. I just texted one yesterday. I feel like that’s hard to find, because on a larger campus, you’re a number, which makes sense. They can’t be close to everyone. Here you’re in class of 25-40 people. You know the professor, and they know you. You get to learn from them not only as an instructor, but a person, too. It was awesome.

One more hard-hitting question: What is the best ice cream flavor?

We have rotating flavors and we have stationary flavors. My favorite rotating flavor, my favorite flavor of them all, is the Joe’s Burnt Ends. Stationary, I have to go for Goat Cheese, Apricot and Candied Walnut.

Alec Rodgers holding a pint of his favorite ice cream
Alec shows off his favorite flavor of ice cream.

 


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