Craig Spillman
Director of Food and Beverage
VenuWorks of Evansville

Forget “do no harm;” Craig Spillman likes to leave things a little better than he found them, and that goes for the people he’s left behind as he advances along his career path.

“When I have left a job or position for another growth opportunity, I have always left the position in a better place than when I started,” he said. “Not only that, but I’ve placed others in a position to learn or take over for me and ultimately take the operation to new levels of success that I didn’t.”

Spillman majored in sports marketing and management at Indiana University and got his first taste of the live entertainment business as a general summer intern in Alabama with the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team, which involved “a lot of work and long hours … but as I would look out and see the baseball field, I was always kind of like, ‘It’s cool that this is where I work.’”

After graduating in 2010, Spillman went to work for Grand Slam Catering in Birmingham, where he rose to director of catering, before departing in 2011 for VenuWorks in Evansville, Indiana. There, as concessions manager, he oversaw the operations at the then-new 10,000-seat Ford Center arena, the 1,700-seat Victory Theatre and the Mesker Park Zoo, where he managed a staff of over 130 part-time employees in a department that rang up $2.5 million in annual sales.

From there, he moved on to a position with Centerplate before returning to VenuWorks in Ames, Iowa. Still with VenuWorks, Spillman’s come full circle, now as director of food and beverage for VenuWorks of Evansville.

Being young makes it easier to relate to his workforce, especially the managers he has hired, Spillman says.

“I‘ve been a manager myself recently enough that I understand the job and challenges they face,” he said.

Spillman feels he’s succeeded in part because he won’t become “siloed.”

“I don’t necessarily stay in my own bubble of what is my job,” he said. “I try and do that well, but then look outside of that and truly understand how what I am doing impacts other departments. Making yourself available goes a long way in showing how much you care and want to learn.”

Spillman says he’s learned hard work and humility from his parents and credits Eric Crook, Bernie Bilenki and Russ Ferguson as mentors.

“I owe a lot to my current and former executive directors Scott Schoenike and Tammy Koolbeck as well,” he said.