When Paul Ranheim was a little kid, there was one activity that he loved more then lacing up a pair of skates to play hockey:
“I always wanted to build things,” he said. “When I grew up I wanted to work in construction. But I had to take a detour and play some hockey.”
For 15 seasons Ranheim was considered a reliable, defensive-oriented winger who could be counted on to shut down a top player, or kill a penalty while occasionally chipping in offensively.
For three of those 15 seasons, Ranheim did just that in Philadelphia with the Flyers, playing with the team from 2000-2003.
His best season with the Flyers was 2000-01, when he scored 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points, when he was a quiet and cerebral veteran who often ignored the spotlight, but was considered an ultimate team-oriented player.
After playing those 15 years, spending time in Calgary, Hartford, Carolina and Phoenix aside from his time with the Flyers, Ranheim decided to finally do what he always wanted to do.
“I immediately got involved in real estate and home building in Arizona and built a beautiful home out in the desert,” said Ranheim, now 46 and back home where he grew up in Minnesota. “I hired a contractor, an architect and an interior designer for the project, but I wanted to be involved every step of the way – so I was.”
Ranheim built a beautiful home – one that he had conceptualized in his own mind and brought to fruition.
“It is when that happens, when you see something that you want to make, and then you complete it just as you saw it that you get a real sense of satisfaction,” Ranheim said.
But, the economy went south and the real estate market went with it. Ranheim was an economics major at the University of Wisconsin, so he was no dummy, and bailed out of the construction and contracting business – for a little while anyway – to pursue other business ventures.
He and a couple friends then created their own Arizona-based technology company called Keyware.
Keyware provides digital social monitoring and security solutions for Internet access devices used in households and small businesses.
Digital social monitoring and security involves monitoring and protecting people and their activities as opposed to computer systems and networks such as that provided by antivirus software companies.
The products apply a combination of sophisticated software and hardware delivery systems to provide a simple, pragmatic and robust approach to solving the problems of digital social monitoring.
The first product was called Action Alert (actionalert.com), which is a comprehensive parental control software that allows parents to safely monitor and control Internet usage by their children.
It was a huge success.
Investors got involved with the company throwing millions behind it, and a second product called VeriKey was created. This would allow small businesses to monitor employee Internet usage, lock out unwanted web sites and eliminating personal activities on company computers.
A new CEO was hired and the products became even easier to use as they became downloadable.
While Ranheim still had a business tie to the company, things were running smoothly enough that he could try other outlets.
So, he got involved with the marketing and branding of a hockey jersey company and helped sell the model to youth leagues and high schools.
But he knew all along what his true calling was.
So Ranheim sold the home in Arizona and moved back to his hometown of Edina, Minnesota.
There, he rebuilt the snack bar at the local hockey rink. They loved his work so much, that he picked up another rink project. Then a mom of one of the kids who played at the rink asked him to work on her home.
He started assistant coaching hockey at St. Louis Park High School (with head coach and former Flyer Shjon Podein) and was asked to help build a new pro shop in the rink they play hockey.
It’s a dream come true for Ranheim, who took classes and earned a contractor’s license when he was in Arizona.
“My goal is to start a home remodeling company here in Minnesota,” Ranheim said. “I watch all those reality shows and get some great ideas from them, but I have a real eye for what something should look like. I want to take some old, gray homes – places built in the 1950s and 60s and transform them.”
And it’s not just the conceptual part of it… Ranheim wants to get his hands dirty.
“Oh I want to be right down in there working on everything,” he said. I’m not just an idea guy.”
Ranheim needs to be involved. He needs to be kept active. He needs to always have something to do.
Coaching is another outlet for him.
“I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to keep playing in a men’s league,” he said. “Some guys like that, but it isn’t for me. I had my fill of playing. But getting on the ice with the kids and coaching and skating with them and teaching and getting a good workout in is exactly what I need to feed that fire.”
It was a fire that many astute Philadelphia hockey fans noticed for a few short years, not because he was constantly lighting up the scoreboard, but because Ranheim brought his lunch pail to work every night for the Flyers.
Yep, he liked to get his hands dirty.
“I was so excited to be in Philly,” Ranheim said. “I was almost there earlier in my career because [then GM Bob] Clarke tried to trade for me when I was with Calgary and it was close - but it didn’t work out.
“However, what really impressed me when I finally got there is how the organization is run. It all starts with Ed Snider – he makes that team such a family and such a well-run organization. Its fun to be part of it. You want to help it succeed. Plus I love the history of the organization. Just to skate in that uniform was a privilege for me.”
And Ranheim always surrounded himself with solid citizens as friends in the locker room. While he can sit there and talk about how entertaining a teammate like Jeremy Roenick was, he was more interested in talking about the quality people in the room – like Keith Primeau.
“Keith and I went back to our days in Hartford and Carolina, but you couldn’t find a better teammate,” Ranheim said. “And I loved the way he led the team. He was a great captain.”
Ranheim was also tight with fellow defensive forward Kent Manderville and really liked the attitude and approach of young players at the time Justin Williams and Patrick Sharp, both who have gone on to star and win the Stanley Cup in other cities.
Ranheim even extoled the coaching abilities of Bill Barber and Craig Ramsay, calling them both a pleasure to play for.
Ranheim said he hasn’t had a chance to get back to Philadelphia but one time – for a QVC event for his tech company – since leaving the Flyers, but says he keeps a close eye on the Flyers and still roots hard for them to succeed.
“I’m a big fan of Paul Holmgren and always want to see him do well,” Ranheim said. “To see him continue to have success there, even after turning the roster over the way he had to do, is a testament to not just the organization, but the work and commitment he and his staff puts in to provide the best possible product on the ice.
“The Flyers are in good hands with Holmgren.”
And from what it sounds like, the folks in St. Louis Park, Minnesota are in good hands with Paul Ranheim too.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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