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The Daily



10-25-03: Job sits well with St. Henry graduate

Editor’s Note: It is said that we must give our children two gifts: roots and wings. Roots and Wings is an occasional series by The Daily Standard on promising young adults, natives of the Grand Lake St. Marys area who are facing new and interesting challenges as they make their way in the wide world.
Standard Correspondent

The Ervin J. Nutter Center opened on the campus of Wright State University in Dayton in 1990 and since then has become the second-highest grossing facility for its capacity in the United States, and the fourth-highest in the world.
One reason for the success of the facility is its flexibility; it can accommodate small groups in its conference and meeting rooms, or, at full capacity, it holds 12,500 people.
And Ryan Fullenkamp is responsible for finding every one of them a seat.
Fullenkamp, 26, a 1995 graduate of St. Henry High School and the son of Steve and Carol Fullenkamp of St. Henry, is a senior operations coordinator at the Nutter Center, where he has worked full-time since 1999. He supervises crews of workers who set up and tear down after each of the Nutter Center’s various events, from sports tournaments to ice shows to Cher.
“There’s a lot of physical labor involved, and there’s a lot of thought that goes into all the planning for the events, too,” Fullenkamp said. “We want to make sure everything’s safe and ready to go when the people start arriving.”
The Nutter Center is now in the midst of its busy season, which stretches from October through the end of March, Fullenkamp said. It is touring season for many musical performers, and the heart of high school and college sports seasons as well. The Nutter Center is home to both the Wright State University basketball teams (men’s and women’s) and the Dayton Bombers professional hockey team.
Crews at the center have to prepare for each event, and are often working to prepare the center for more than one event per day. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but something is always going on in that building,” he said. “It’s the boss’s job to get as many events booked into the building as possible, and it’s our job to figure out how we’re going to get it all done.”
When a big musical act comes to the Nutter Center, the center’s crew has plenty of help from the performer’s own staff, Fullenkamp said. Cher’s show earlier this year, for instance, required 70 stage hands. The out-of-town crew arrives first thing in the morning to work on the technical details, “and we work with them to answer questions and help out. Their stuff always fits in differently than they think it’s going to,” he said. Once the technical crew is finished, “they give us a drawing of what they want, and a list of stuff they need, and we go to work.”
It’s an amazing process, he said. “If you ever go to a show, try to stay around afterwards until they kick you out. It’s fascinating to see how fast they can tear it all down,” he said. “At Cher’s show, in two-and-a-half hours, they had everything out and the trucks all loaded. It was phenomenal to see.”
Fullenkamp went to work at the Nutter Center after trying his hand at the drafting and design program at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. But he learned during an internship that he wasn’t cut out for desk work. “I hated it. There was no way I could sit behind a computer in an office all the time,” he said.
An avid outdoorsman who once owned his own small construction company in St. Henry, Fullenkamp said he felt much more at home in a job where he could do some physical work.
And he does jump right into the work, said his supervisor, John Cox. “Ryan knows that a supervisor has to be willing to work, too, to put his hands on the equipment and get the job done,” Cox said. “He has good common sense, and can turn around and be a personnel booster, a guy who has the patience to say to a part-time crew, OK, this is how we do it.”
Unfortunately, Fullenkamp isn’t doing much of anything just now. Six weeks ago, while scouting locations for a deer stand, he fell out of a tree and suffered a compound fracture to his leg and will spend as many as 16 weeks on crutches. It has been an eventful year; in July, he married his wife, Andrea, a fourth-grade teacher.
He’s anxious, he said, to get back to work in the building that he knows so well. But it will be a while before he can travel over every part of the center. “I know for sure I’m not going to be out on the ice for a while,” he said.


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