Hard-working and fiercely entrepreneurial, Robbie Mathisen gets things done. The Peoria Heights native co-owns no less than four different businesses in his hometown: Pour Bros. Craft Taproom (with a second location in Champaign), Slow Hand Craft BBQ, Grindstone Group (where he serves as chief business development director) and his latest venture, Purpose Barber Station & Supply. He also founded the Peoria Heights Historical Society, though that project was put on hold due to the growth of his businesses. Indeed, he’s always got a project on the horizon…
Mathisen graduated from Peoria Heights High School in 2001 and spent two years at Illinois Central College as an education major. “I really wanted to teach and coach,” he recalls. “But my mind had a stronger pull for business.” Today, alongside his business ventures, he is active with economic development in the Heights and sits on the Business Development District Advisory Committee—and he’s currently working to expand a new initiative with Grindstone Group. “We want to work with and mentor entrepreneurs,” he explains. “This would make me extremely happy knowing we’re making a difference for the hardest-working people in the world: small business owners.”
Outside of work, Mathisen enjoys fishing, golfing and spending time with his family—he and his wife Amanda have three children: Macy, 14; Cooper, 12; and Kendall, nine. But his favorite hobby is “dreaming up new ideas!” he notes with enthusiasm, adding that his life is a rewarding one. “I get to work for myself, help others grow professionally, and make people smile with beer, BBQ and music!” For Mathisen, nothing could be better.
- Favorite aspect of central Illinois: The history is so incredible! The industry, the people, the great successes and downturns… this place has seen it all. That’s why I believe we will get through everything we are faced with. This town has heart!
- Which historical figure do you most identify with? President Ulysses S. Grant. Overcoming his trials, doubters and flaws somehow led him into the nation’s top position.
- Famous person, dead or alive, I’d like to meet: Charles Duryea. I’d love to hear his local trials and tribulations while helping to create a national industry.
- Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could play an instrument. The gift of music is lifelong and so important for communities. It really needs to be a focus for our schools.
- What’s some of the best advice you’ve been given? Stay in your lane! I don’t listen to this very well.
- Biggest hurdle you’ve overcome: Financial discipline. I had to learn from my mistakes the hard way. But I’m very glad I went through some tough times in order to get where I’m at.
- What social issue fires you up? Racism. I wish we were all forced to grow up in integrated neighborhoods. We could develop bonds from a young age that would change our ignorance.
- Favorite sport to play/watch: I’m a baseball guy. The skill, strategy and tradition are second to no other sports.
- My life won’t be complete until I… use my life’s experiences to create some type of entrepreneurial trade school.
- What or who inspires you? Proving the doubters wrong. I’ve always considered myself an underdog. I have a blast hearing, “You can’t do that!” That’s the only motivation I need. PM