The 24-year-old owner of Bear Creek Donuts is a seasoned baker.
Sharon Haberstroh knows a good doughnut when she chomps into one.
Haberstroh recently completed the Butler County Donut Trail, which gives participants a free T-shirt for visiting and getting a “passport” stamped at eight doughnut shops in the county. She also used to work at a Dunkin’ Donuts in high school.
Oh, and she recently participated in the Tour de Donut in Arcanum, Ohio, a 32-mile bicycle ride that combines riding bikes with, you guessed it, eating doughnuts.
So Haberstroh, who was seated with her husband, Mark, at a table in Bear Creek Donuts in Miamisburg on a recent Thursday morning, considers herself a pretty good judge of doughnuts.
And what’s her No. 1 criteria for the quality of a doughnut? “If it’s more than a half-hour old it’s stale,” says Haberstroh.
So what about the quality of the doughnuts at Bear Creek Donuts, which opened in April? “Delicious,” says Haberstroh. “I got their pumpkin one and then their Buckeye one. So something a little different—out of the ordinary—than just the usual.”
That kind of sums up Ryan Tripp, the 24-year-old owner of Bear Creek Donuts—a little different, out of the ordinary and not your usual doughnut shop owner.
That’s because Tripp earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Wright State University. He then got a good-paying job as a pharmaceutical sales representative after graduation. But there was something inside of him that wanted to do something else, something he started doing as a 14-year-old in Springboro.
Tripp wanted to make doughnuts.
Mike Hemmert, owner of the Donut Haus in Springboro, was one of the few businesses who hired kids as young as 14 to work for him. Hemmert says he could see Tripp was not the typical 14-year-old when he interviewed for a job. “You could just tell that Ryan came from a strong background and had good grades—all the things we sort of look for as an employer,” says Hemmert.
He hired Tripp and sure enough, Hemmert says, Tripp started excelling right away and soon began performing faster than some of the 16- and 17-year-olds at the Donut Haus.
“So I just kept feeding him more stuff and showing him more stuff and Ryan became the youngest baker that I ever had here … at age 16,” Hemmert says. “Usually they don’t become the baker until 18.”
By then Tripp thought he might like to own his own doughnut shop. But his parents had other plans.
“We told him he had to go school,” says Tripp’s mother, Kelly Tripp. “We said go to school and get something to fall back on just in case.” So Tripp went to classes at Wright State University while continuing to work at the Donut Haus.
When he finished his undergraduate degree Tripp says he planned to continue his education. “I had full intention of going back, but I was like, hey, I got to work for a few years just to save up for it because grad school isn’t cheap,” Tripp says. So Tripp took a job first as a pharmaceutical and then a medical sales rep.
And then it hit him.
“I was down in New Orleans,” Tripp says. “We were at a big company meeting and I decided I was going to come back and open up a doughnut shop while I was down there,” he says.
So what else could his parents say? “We said, ‘Do it now while you’re young,’” says Kelly.
So Tripp and his father met with Hemmert to talk about opening a new doughnut shop. Hemmert wanted to know where Tripp wanted to open his store. Tripp told him Miamisburg. “I said, ‘Ryan, if I was expanding and I wanted to open another shop Miamisburg is exactly where I would pick,’” Hemmert says.
Hemmert made a few phone calls to property owners and found a space to lease that hadn’t yet hit the market, he says. “In less than 48 hours, I believe, he had signed a lease so things moved along that quickly and he got opened up really quick,” Hemmert says.
Tripp says the most frustrating part of opening his doughnut shop was the time it took to get all the permits in order. “That’s something, until you actually go through and do it, you have no idea,” he says.
Tripp says he gets a real sense of satisfaction in owning his own doughnut business. “You can see everything you made and at the end of the day you see how much of it sold and then you start all over for the next day,” he says. “So I get that real good feeling at the end of the day every day.”
Customers also get a good feeling at Bear Creek Donuts. “We’ve been extremely busy,” says Tripp.
Hemmert says Tripp has taught him the importance of innovation as he shares his new specialty doughnuts with his old boss—many of which have also become big sellers at the Donut Haus.
As you can tell, there’s absolutely no animosity, or secrets, between these two businessmen.
“We are the best of friends,” says Hemmert. “He’s like a son to me. I couldn’t be any more proud of him.”
To receive more articles from Dayton Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: http://bit.ly/1l70sqL