Business Skills Lead to Political Career

By Rachel Phelps ('09) 
January 30, 2014
Business Skills Lead to Political Career

When Ron Ryckman (’94) started his first business, he was just one year out of college and ready to use his degree in business. Although he was young for a business owner, he felt prepared. Two decades and several successful businesses later, he states with confidence how MNU shaped the leader he would become.

“The positive Christian environment at MNU and the strong community atmosphere gave me the opportunity to explore and learn what would be successful strategies for me as a business owner and entrepreneur,” Ryckman remarked. “Having small class sizes and personal connections with qualified faculty gave me the chance to learn by doing.”

Nearly twenty years later, he is still heavily involved in the construction and land management field, but has expanded the application of his degree to include local and state government in Kansas.

Ryckman is in his second year as a Kansas State Representative, in the 78th district, and was just named House Republican Majority Whip at the opening of the 2014 legislative session in Topeka. As Majority Whip, Ryckman will be charged with counting votes on issues and assuring the majority party members are supporting their caucus. He also serves on several committees, including the Special Committee on Education, the Appropriations Committee, the Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee. He is also chair of the Social Services Budget. Aside from his work in state government, Ryckman is a member of the Olathe City Council, and is active on the board at Living Hope Church of the Nazarene.

“I believe owning my own business at a very early age helped me develop the necessary leadership skills, critical thinking, and problem solving skill sets that help me in public service and community involvement,” Ryckman says.

His work in civil service has been rewarding, and unusual in two respects. One is that he serves both in the state legislature and on a city council, which he says gives him a more personal view of the Kansas taxpayer and their priorities. The other is that he is serving concurrently with his father, Ron Ryckman, Sr., who is the representative of the 115th district which includes Clarke, Gray and Meade counties and Dodge City, Kan. Ryckman in KS House

“I can’t adequately express how much serving with my father means to me.  Yes, we share political views in most cases, but more importantly, we share values and faith.  I’m truly blessed to be serving with him,” says Ryckman.

Ryckman believes in using his skills to help others develop their talents. A business consultant, he uses his entrepreneurial skills to help companies develop plans for success, particularly by assisting individuals and companies in creating, organizing, and sustaining their organization and market share. One of the main tenets he teaches is to remember that one person doesn’t know everything and there will always be smarter people around.

“Surround yourself with them and learn from them.  Be humble enough to listen and to change.  That is the only way you will stay ahead in an ever-changing business environment.  If you’re not always learning, you will never be truly successful,” he says.

Ryckman credits the university with helping form this style of servant leadership. Whether from his experience on the MNU basketball team, or through interaction with professors and other students, Ryckman’s MNU experience helped prepare him for multi-faceted roles he currently holds.

“Learning how to lead on the court and in the classroom; balancing the diverse backgrounds of my teammates and classmates—the unique personalities and perspectives they all brought with them—all of these experiences would become a proving ground for my political experiences today,” says Ryckman.

Ryckman and his wife, Kim (Banz ‘95), a teacher in the Blue Valley school district, have three children and reside in Olathe, Kan.