Entrepreneur Grows Up To Be Kid Again

Posted: September 9, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, People, Startup

“My name is Dan Berger.” “My name is Dan Berger.” “My name is Dan Berger.”

jerry-malsh-2015When asked to tell his senior class at Denison University about himself, Dan Berger mimicked the format of “To Tell The Truth”, a popular TV game show of the 60’s, by standing up and sitting down three times … each time describing a different aspect of his life.

First, there was Dan Berger the serious student. Next, there was Dan Berger the not so serious guy who loved to drink beer and play his guitar. Finally, there was Dan Berger who today has honestly forgotten whatever the third aspect of his life actually had been back then.

Yet what Dan didnt say about himself that day actually said more about who he already had become.

At age 4, with is mother’s encouragement, he was cooking up a storm of signature dishes including pancakes from scratch, apple pies and butter-basted eggs.

At 6, he was playing Chopsticks on the piano.

At 8, he started his first business, picking and selling vegetables from his family’s garden to neighbors.

At 10, he was playing the ukulele.

At 15, he was playing the guitar, teaming up with a high school buddy, singing folk music at parties and coffeehouses.

At 19, he had an epiphany usually reserved for those at least twice his age: Life is short. Do what you love doing as soon as you think you can, the rest will take care of itself.

Facing graduation without a clue as to what he wanted to do next, Dan took his father’s advice that going to law school would prove invaluable in any business he might choose to pursue later on.

So he did.

Next Dan became an attorney with a prestigious Cincinnati law firm and built himself a successful, decades-long practice.

Flash forward thirty years.

My name is Dan Berger. Founder of Maple Grove Farm, purveyor of Ohios favorite maple syrup.

Dan enjoyed being an attorney, until he didn’t, leaving the law firm to focus on one his earlier passions … food.

While he was an attorney, Dan had moved from suburban Cincinnati to a farm in nearby Lebanon, raising and selling some of his produce at farmers’ markets, to restaurants and local grocers. The rest of the crop became the centerpiece for entertaining friends with his home cooked meals.

Then a funny thing happened.

A neighbor asked Dan to tap a few of the maple trees on his land and, in exchange, the neighbor would cook the sap into maple syrup.

Dan agreed, loved the process and soon invested in the equipment needed to cook his own brand of syrup from his trees and those of neighboring farms.

Today Dan has 825 taps on those trees producing between 250 and 300 gallons of Maple Grove Farm Maple Syrup annually.

Then another funny thing happened.

My name is Dan Berger. Founder and Head Chef of Maple Grove Caterers, offering distinctive catering for discriminating clients.

Soon after leaving the law firm, Dan got a call from one of his former partners who, having been spoiled by many of Dan’s delicious meals, asked him to cater a client lunch. The immediate word of mouth and referrals from that single lunch launched Dan’s newest career.

Next thing he knew, Maple Grove Farm was catering events throughout Greater Cincinnati.

Then another funny thing happened.

“My name is Dan Berger. Co-Founder of the group ‘Out On Bond’. Playing your favorite rock, country and blues music.”  

In 2003, when Dan and Jim Hunt, the other half of his old folk music duo, met at their 40th high school reunion, they decided to get back together and enhance their repertoire. Now they’re playing their hearts out in area bars.

From talents to passions to careers, throughout his entire 15-year journey of rediscovery, Dan credits his wife Susan for always being alongside him with her unconditional support. “I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have done any of this without Susan,” says Dan.

My name is Dan Berger. Ive gone back to being a kid again, love it and urge you to do the same. Put your passions to work!





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