The Fort Collective is family.
I have always been a dreamer. The Fort Collective is a culmination or marriage of dreams I’ve sat on for years.
I love coffee and I love coffee shops. I’ve always referenced to coffee as a vehicle that can connect all walks of life and has the organic ability to foster community.
Throughout the years in the coffee business in Columbus, I was intrigued at how many people utilized coffee shops as their office space or “home away from home”.
I think entrepreneurialism has always been inside of me. I noticed it when I started my first business by accident when I was 16 with a car detailing business. It actually did well and I was even able to hire one of my friends to work for me too. It was my first real taste of being an entrepreneur and running my own business and I loved the responsibility behind it. I knew that what I put into it I would get out of it. I liked the flexibility it gave me as a kid as well—it allowed me to make money while still being involved with sports and camps that I loved to do!
Over the last decade or so the rise of co-working spaces and offices has made a surge in our country and they have captivated my attention. As I’ve looked into them more and more they just make sense to me at the end of the day. The way these co-working spaces foster entrepreneurialism, a community of like-minded thinkers and innovation is truly cool.
About 10 years ago I was working with a friend in the coffee industry in Columbus and it was the first time the concept and dream of what is now The Fort Collective was birthed in me.
I started really feeling energized at the thought of what it would look like to intentionally marry the coffee shop business model with the co-working business model. And if done right – how it could completely revolutionize both industries with the overflow effect of completely transforming communities!
Over the past 10 years those dreams, ideas, and thoughts have certainly refined into what is now The Fort Collective. When people see or think about and experience The Fort Collective I want them to think “what if…” as they enjoy great coffee, food & conversation in our space.
The Fort is a place for dreaming (and of course, the place to get great coffee and food in Chillicothe!). I want leaders, entrepreneurs, photographers, freelancers, and business people to feel like The Fort is their home—a place to gather over good food and great coffee, and that will take them and their dreams to the next level.
Why “The Fort”?
I grew up building all kinds of forts when I was a kid… What kid didn’t? My younger brothers and I used to build some epic forts. Our backyard was home to pretty much every kid in the neighborhood large in part because of a tree fort we had built with a nice little strategic perch walking out on a limb overhanging our trampoline.
Epic times were had for sure… But for me personally that fort was a place where my (day) dreams came alive. It caused everyone to daydream and play through the days and nights. As the business model developed for what is now “ The Fort Collective” it was the first thing that came to me. It has to be called the fort. It has to be the place that brings the “neighborhood kids” together to dream and have fun again!
Why a “Collective”?
The Fort is truly a collective space created with everyone in mind. It is a space created for communities. This space has been so intentionally designed and thought out to every detail! The cafe space for Rost Coffee. Having a roastery and production of the coffee on site. The Kids Fort. The offices. The co-work space. The retail stores. The full kitchen and cafe.
All of it has been created for one purpose: to foster and develop the needs of a community and be part of the catalyzing effort in growing and revitalizing downtown Chillicothe, Ohio… and eventually even more locations, cities, and communities!
Chillicothe is home. My wife, Hillary, and I actually chose to move to Chillicothe and invest in this city just about four years ago. At that time we created an intentionally minimalist coffee shop with one goal in mind: do coffee well, unlike anything around, and be a part of developing a community and creating a place that people can feel proud of.
We love this city and the friends we have made. We can’t imagine being anywhere else now. When deciding on launching The Fort Collective here and growing Rost Coffee it was simple for us. Yes! As we began taking steps towards this goal the momentum grew. We ultimately were connected with our now business partners Alan and Steve and The Daniel Investment Group and we had a chance to pitch to them the concept and it all took off from there.
Their vision for community involvement paired with our business model was a perfect marriage. Hillary and I are super grateful for their support and partnership because it’s allowed us to create something that is way bigger than us or what we could have done by ourselves and this city deserves it!
We believe Chillicothe can truly become a southern Ohio business hub and marketplace for business development and entrepreneurialism. Along with building a model for community involvement and development that will allow other communities to look to and learn from!
Someday I want people to not just think that Chillicothe, Ohio is a place for dreamers—but rather its a place where dreams become reality!