After graduation, many alumni follow the conventional wisdom, “Bloom where you’re planted.” Eric Menzer, GVPT ’86, has gone beyond putting down roots in the area where he built a career—he’s built a community.
Menzer has unofficially become “Mr. York,” as in York, Pennsylvania. To many Terps who have traveled to points north of campus, York (metro population 180,000 or so) might best be known as the town off of I-83 where the York Barbell Man turns on his pedestal. But to Hyattsville native Menzer, who moved to York in 1987 after living in downtown D.C. and working in Bethesda following graduation, York is and will likely always be home.
“I like the physical setting of York—I like that urban, industrial feel. I like the work ethic here. Things in York are done the way things were always made - with blue collar ingenuity. People here are modest and hard-working. We’ve had opportunities to leave, but we’ve been happy to get involved in York. When they moved to York, Menzer assumed he would move on after a couple of years. “31 years later, we’re lifers,” Menzer said of himself and of his wife, Kendall.
Life for the Menzers is York-centric, and very busy. He’s the president of York Professional Baseball, the organization that owns and operates the York Revolution and WOYK Sports Radio 1350, and manages the York Ice Arena. Menzer’s community outreach efforts include serving as a director of the York Traditions Bank, chairing the board of Better York, and working with the United Way.
Leading a baseball organization is a dream job for Menzer, who grew up watching the Baltimore Orioles, then went on to be a youth baseball coach and umpire.
“I’ve been a fan of the game all my life,” Menzer said. But he emphasizes that at its heart, the team is not a sports business. “We are a hospitality and entertainment company that plays baseball,” he says of his organization.
As a businessman, Menzer knows it is important to connect with customers and with members of the community. That’s why you’ll find him passing out customer satisfaction surveys at home games, donning a Revs cap. Kendall joins him at almost every game—about 70 a year. Their daughter, Frances, practices law in Colorado.
“I’ve always been involved in this community because I think you have to build the kind of place where you want to live. With the United Way and other organizations I’m involved in, it’s not just about giving to that organization. It’s about creating a community. It’s not ‘what’s in it for me,’ but in a way, the more you give to a place, the more you get out of it,” Menzer said.
The road to York—and to success across varied fields—started on the roads of College Park. Menzer was a driver and a student manager for Shuttle UM. Once he had his degree, Menzer stayed on the road—so to speak. In fact, it was to run the community’s public transit system that he first moved to York, before working as the city’s economic development director than in construction and real estate development.
A degree in government and politics has certainly helped Menzer’s path toward civic engagement and community leadership. But his career and personal life were most influenced by those days working at Shuttle UM.
“I learned a lot in government classes, and a few economics classes, but what really put me on my path was working while I was in school. As they say, the best way to learn about leadership is to lead, and the best way to learn about management is to manage,” Menzer said.
Menzer leads and manages every day—at work and as a citizen of the town he loves so much.
“We value living in a community with people whose lives overlap,” Menzer said.
Investing in his community is important to Menzer, not only for the benefits for the residents of York, but to preserve and to make possible important memories.
Menzer’s family suffered a tragic loss when his son, Reid, died in 2006 at the age of 14 when a car hit Reid as he was riding his street luge. One of the many ways the Menzer family and York community has paid tribute to Reid is through the establishment of the Reid Menzer Memorial Skatepark, a safe and beautiful place where York residents can ride and spend time with one another.
Menzer is proud of the fact that the skatepark was built with one hundred percent charitable funding.
“The community of York embraced it. The city donated land in a local park but every penny to build it was donated. a lot of people got involved and were very generous,” Menzer said.
There is no doubt the residents of York were honored to support a family who had given so much of themselves to the community.
“My wife and I stopped by on a bike ride the other day. It was a beautiful day, and a father and son were playing together in the park. He was a skater teaching his young son a trick. It was no different than a dad throwing a ball with his son in the back yard. We had those kinds of memories with Reid. Now, there’s a space where families can make those kinds of memories together.”
New memories—and fond recollections—are made for the Menzers every year on the College Park campus. Menzer enjoys returning a few times annually for basketball and football games.
“I’m always astounded by the changes on campus,” Menzer said.
When asked what advice he would give to current students, Menzer laughs.
“I was a pretty average student—I put in more hours at Shuttle UM,” Menzer said. “But, in a way, that’s my advice—find a place where you make friends and get along with your co-workers. Get involved with something you can put your heart into and learn from.”
As winter graduates and the Class of 2019 are about to enter the work force, Menzer’s advice is for new alumni to show potential employers that they are well-rounded and dedicated.
“I’m looking for people who are willing to work hard and who have a great attitude. That’s about ninety percent of success. In our field, we can teach people the specialized aspects if they have a solid four-year education. During the six months of baseball season, we’re putting in 70-hour weeks, 80-hour weeks making people happy. You can’t teach someone how to do that part if they don’t already get a kick out of it. I’m interested in working with people who can show a real commitment,” Menzer said.