Ben Martch’s childhood ambitions consisted of cultivating his skater crew, aptly named “Germ,” and growing up to be a doctor. But nowhere on his list of grown-up dreams did he list bottle service or go-go dancers.
“I’m going the direction I want to go,” he said of his future. “I saw what I wanted from an early age and went for it.”
It seemed natural for the Roseburg, Ore., native to want to follow in the footsteps of his parents and utilize the people skills handed down to him. His father, Ted, is a Special Olympics coach, his mother, Darlene, a nurse. Although he wanted to help people, too, his big brown eyes, constant infectious smile and firm handshake made him a shoo-in for just about any social environment.
As he got older and learned the value of a hard-earned dollar, Ben wanted to be a banker. Having gotten all he could out of Roseburg High – popularity that scored him a place on the homecoming court, and some trouble on the side for good measure (a few fights here and there) – Ben and his charisma headed south to Colorado after graduation.
However, his knack with people and a drive to make money would sideline his vision of medicine and lead him to a different kind of cash handling in college.
“Reality hit when I had to pay my own (out of state) tuition,” he said.
The mountains provided ample entertainment for the long-time snowboarder and Fort Collins proved to be just the place for him to become CSU’s version of Van Wilder, the popular party boy with mad connections and a way with the ladies.
“My first impression is that he was just a really chill kid,” said his friend of three years, Ryan Pinjuv, a 22-year-old senior construction management student. “He is as personable as any cat I have ever met, a true people person.”
A jock by nature, his slender six-foot frame is most comfortable on the soccer field and he played lacrosse in high school. He’s a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan in honor of his parents’ home town and a family connection to the team. Ben has loved hip-hop since fifth grade and he’d rather go to the bars and party than watch a movie – or do much else. He’s serious about school, with a 3.2 GPA, and puts that before anything, even lookin’ fly.
Not necessarily the makings of the next Ralph Lauren.
But when he missed the registration deadline freshman year, his counselor suggested fashion industries and merchandising.
While he dawns a silver chain most days and rings on two fingers, one of which he has had so long that he can’t get it off, and has an extensive collection of name-brand clothes and shoes he buys online or from Unsoled – the new shoe store in town – he didn’t envision a career on the catwalk.
With the option to move from merchandising into event planning, he agreed and is now at the end of his senior year. His four years as a Ram were spent loving being one of few men in his classes and doing publicity and promotions for the CSU chapter of Fashion Group International, a global fashion club.
“Every morning I wake up and dance,” he said.
School aside, his focus on fashion promotions led him to what he hopes to parlay into a successful business. At 22 years old, his premature career timeline begins with over-the-top house parties on Howes Street and continues on from bartenders, bouncers, cover charges and DJs to business meetings and his own Web site.
“Whatever he ends up doing I know he’s going to be the best,” Pinjuv said. “Ben puts in 110 percent into everything that matters to him, be it school, job, friends, or partying. If he has to get a job at the bottom of the industry, I have no doubt in my mind that he will be at the top sooner rather than later.”
With no industry connections to speak of, Ben and friends started small with house parties that soon grew to be “ragers” in every sense of the word.
Not only were Ben and his roommates partying according to Hollywood standards, he had been sponsored by the Rockstar energy drink to do just that.
“Our house was known as the Rockstar house last spring and this fall,” he said.
When throwing parties complete with an in-house VIP area grew to be too cumbersome, Ben’s ingenuity and some corporate sponsorship meant he could leave the block and step up his game to play host at local venues.
After studying abroad for six months in Australia last year, Ben got a homecoming call from Rockstar. His reputation for accommodating the ever popular college party mood had preceded him and he was offered a job as a promoter.
Just as fashion had fallen into his lap, so did monthly cases of an energy drink and the responsibility to make not only himself, but also the national company look good. While he no longer drinks his product, (it makes him shaky) his business is thriving.
Along with his office job in the natural resources ecology lab, Ben is a party liaison. Between printing up fliers, networking through mass text and Facebook messages and word of mouth from a virtual street team of friends and acquaintances, he has created an up-and-coming club scene in an otherwise lacking market.
“I like to supply the atmosphere,” he said of his newfound job. “The money’s just a perk.”
And there seems to be a demand for what this entrepreneur is supplying.
With initial success promoting Osiris Night Club, 2649 E. Mulberry St., events like the “Black and White Party” in March, which was thrown in part by the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity in order to promote diversity at the club, Ben has moved on to what he hopes will be bigger and better opportunities.
“It gave me a taste of how this industry works,” he said of his experience at Osiris. “That’s where I threw my first club party.”
He is currently throwing Thursday night parties at Zydecos, 11 Old Town Square, a move he said will only lead to more know-how.
“I’m a people person,” he said. “I’ve been around a lot of shady characters and some good guys. I’m not trying to step on any toes.”
His time in Fort Collins has made him a good judge of character in business dealings, that skill has been harder to acquire with his peers. While spending multiple nights a week at the bar meeting new friends and pretty ladies has its benefits, there have also been some pitfalls of the party life.
“I get calls every night of the week with people wanting to know what I’m doing,” he said. “When I meet someone (at Osiris) for a second I can’t judge if they want to be my friend or use me.”
Junior speech communication student Greg Garman met Ben after his first party at Osiris and the two have been friends since. While they party together on a weekly basis, common interests led to conversations and they have also joined forces in business.
Garman’s fashion line, “Sir Famous Rokstar” was featured in a fashion show Tuesday at Suite 152, 23 Old Town Square.
“He has amazing social skills, but he also realizes that life is about striking a balance between working hard and playing harder,” the 21-year-old said. “He is one of the most genuine kids I have met at CSU, he is unbelievably driven. I can see ‘Ben Martch’ being a household name within 10 years.”
Having been raised to see the best in people, Ben has learned to be more cautious when it comes to business and friendships.
“The worst part is having people be pissed off at you because you can’t accommodate them,” he said.
While projecting an image of a nonchalant, confident socialite, Ben also holds strong to his small town naivet/ the he said is often misleading.
“A lot of people will meet me and be like ‘you’re not the person I thought you were,'” he said.
That’s where his business partner and friend, senior business and computer information systems major Bryant Hughes, comes in.
“Sometimes he can be too trusting. He’s the most loyal and trusting person I have ever met,” the 22-year-old Edina, Minn., native said. “I’m a business major and I have the attitude that when were doing these promotions. I have to be the business-minded one and Ben needs to be the one talking and boasting himself up – and believe me he is good at it.”
The two met in Durward Hall their freshman year and found out soon after that they shared the same love for socializing and partying in style.
“Ben’s good at what he does because he loves to network and is always trying to make new friends and help people out,” Hughes said. “Because of this people like being around him and his positive vibe.”
Together the duo founded Martch Productions, a production and promotion company they hope to bring to Denver clubs starting this summer.
“In planning our events we focus on the aspects of our lives that influence who we are and what we do such as nightlife, fashion, mountain culture and hip-hop,” reads their Web site, martchproductions.com.
Even though he has made a living off of endorsing himself and his ability to be the life of the party, Ben is quick to distinguish himself from the image of a narcissistic advertiser often associated with nightlife.
“There’s definitely a fine line between being sure of yourself and being up in someone’s face saying ‘I’m the shit – know this,'” he said. “I can’t stand people who think they’re too cool for school.”
At the end of the day, when the crumpled, empty Rockstar cans line the floor and the music is still ringing in his ears, Ben said he’s most proud of leaving home. Though it meant taking the unbeaten, yet oh-so-fashionable path, being the first of his old friends to go to college is a source of pride that couldn’t be matched by the party of the year for Ben.
“I’m most proud of getting out of Roseburg and not following in the footsteps of other people.”
Staff writer Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at email@example.com.
Upcoming events for Martch Productions:
-Rail Jam on the Plaza ::May 4::
-CollegeRoyalty.com launch party at Club Osiris ::May 11::