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Local Chick-fil-A Owners and JPII Newman Meet up to Discuss Servant Leadership and Hospitality

January 3, 2020

If you’ve never been to the Chick-Fil-A at 75th and Dodge, it is a must-visit location. You will enter and leave with no doubt that you are welcomed and wanted there. Owner/Operator Rich Ubele and his wife Laurel have made sure that their customer experience is unparalleled.

“Every time I walk into that restaurant, I am greeted with joy by every employee. It got me thinking about how there is so much in common with the JPII Newman Center, so I asked Rich if he’d be willing to share his best practices with our staff, missionaries and student leadership”, said Susan Gnann, director of advancement at the St. John Paul II Newman Center. Rich accepted without hesitation.

On Friday, December 6th, Laurel and Rich came to the JPII Newman Center with lunch and goodies. In roundtable fashion, they led a conversation, first sharing their story and then answering questions from the group.

They moved to Omaha from Virginia Beach, a move not exuberantly accepted by their kids, but they felt a pull from God to open this location. Their three children in tow, Laurel and Rich came to Omaha to see what God had in store for them. The first few years were stressful as they grew and brought on new staff.

“They thought we were super happy people who asked a lot of them,” Laurel mused as she recalled the first year. The couple faced challenges of new staff trusting and believing in their leadership style. “They had never been around the culture we brought at work before, so we had some trust to build. Now, we are seeing the fruits of all of that hard work, as our store is one of the top performing stores in the country.”

At lunch at JPII Newman, Laurel and Rich shared about how small actions can speak the loudest and to meet people where they are. They make it a point to stop and listen more and be consistent at every step. They make sure everyone who has contact with them leaves a little better than when they arrived.

The staff and students at JPII Newman asked questions about handling conflict, how they model leadership, and how leaders are chosen and elevated. The spoke of how they minister to the people they lead and always model the behavior they want, even on the tough days.

Everyone who attended remarked on how much they had learned and felt the generous love of the Ubeles as they fed the team and shared their knowledge and experiences. The JPII Newman team left the roundtable discussion ready to share and put to use many of the learnings from that day with students on campus and who come visit the JPII Newman Center.

“We exist to share the transformative love of Jesus Christ with every college student in Omaha, and that’s what we intend to do,” said Father Dan Andrews, pastor and director of JPII Newman. “Laurel and Rich helped us see new ways to share this love with our visitors.”

“We are put on this earth to care for each other,” said Rich as the discussion was ending, “Go love them well.”

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