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Alumnus Takes Big Step Toward Goal of Being a Young Business Leader


Some Otterbein University students grow up on a quiet cul-de-sac. Some grow up on a farm. Others grow up in small villages around the world. Eric Mitchell, a business administration major who graduated in December 2013, grew up in the back of a pizza shop.

Eric’s grandfather and his business partner established Mitchelines in 1981 in Nashport, Ohio. Eric’s father bought out his grandfather’s share of the business in 1989, and in 1990, became sole owner and renamed the business Creno’s Pizza. The first franchise opened in 2002, and there are currently 19 locations serving central Ohio communities.

Growing up, Eric worked at Creno’s Pizza in every position – from cashier to driver. As a junior at Otterbein, he took on the role of owner when he purchased his first store, located in Johnstown, Ohio, with his two business partners.

“It was a dream of mine when I was younger to own my own store, and it is now a reality,” Eric said. “The thing I like most about running my own shop is being able to apply all the education and knowledge about business that I have learned throughout my life.”

Eric said that his education at Otterbein gave him the tools and skills to manage his own business, and credits several professors in the Department of Business, Accounting and Economics with having contributed to his success: Dr. Michael Levin, Dr. Don Eskew, Dr. Henry Smith, Professor Brian Day and Professor Mark Skillings.

Though he has had numerous career offers from large corporations, Eric said his heart is with Creno’s.

“The love for business has always been with me,” Eric said. “I think the thing that most prompted my love for Creno’s was literally living it.”

Along with managing his own store, Eric also manages the majority of the marketing and advertising for Creno’s Pizza. He said his main goal is to ensure that the majority of the central Ohio population has the opportunity to try Creno’s.

Not only was Eric a student and business owner while at Otterbein, he also played inside linebacker for the Cardinal football team for four years. In an effort to give back to his community, Eric said he hopes to establish a scholarship fund for local athletes.

“I’m a firm believer in keeping kids on the right path and ensuring that they get the chance to achieve their own dreams, as I have,” he said.

Eric said his career goals are to be a successful business leader at a young age, and help his company grow at a manageable rate, which he hopes will lead to a large share of the market in the northeastern United States.

Learn more about Otterbein’s business program and majors.