Former Blinn baseball player Jeff LaRoche has become a successful business man by applying lessons learned in the classroom and on the playing field.
“As a baseball player, you always are driven to get it right, and there’s a competitive drive to be the best out there that really sticks with you,” LaRoche said. “That is how baseball and business are parallel. The element of patience also has a lot to do with both baseball and business, and if you have the right mentality and patience, it helps you go a long way.”
LaRoche, who played at Blinn in the late 1990s, is in the sixth year as an operating partner of E3 Ranch & Co., a family business that is devoted to sustainable and humane practices that lead to the highest quality beef in America.
“E3 is obviously an acronym for error to the first baseman, so baseball is definitely in the name and we have subtle baseball things in the restaurant,” LaRoche said.
Jeff and brothers Adam and Andy all were professional baseball players, following in the footsteps of father Dave LaRoche, who was 65-58 as a major league pitcher from 1970-83. The two-time all-star left-handed pitcher made one World Series appearance in 1981 with the New York Yankees.
Jeff LaRoche landed in Brenham because it could improve his chances of making the major leagues.
“I wanted to give myself the opportunity to be drafted every year even though I did have a lot of offers from Division I schools,” LaRoche said.
LaRoche’s parents had just moved to Kansas, so attending school in Texas was a challenge. But playing baseball helped the transition and laid the groundwork for a successful career.
“Coach Kyle Van Hook helped us navigate campus life, so it was nice having that personal touch, and the academics at Blinn were very good,” LaRoche said.
Early each season, Van Hook took the Buccaneers to a ranch in New Braunfels to build team chemistry.
“It was hard because we would run up and down hills to get into shape, but then at night everybody sat around the table for dinner,” LaRoche said.
LaRoche had a solid freshman season with Blinn and the left-handed pitcher was selected in the 31st round of the 1997 Major League Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He passed on the Pirates’ offer and returned to Blinn to complete his associate degree, signing with the Miami Marlins in 1998. LaRoche spent seven years in professional baseball but couldn’t get to the major leagues a la his brothers. Adam LaRoche played 12 seasons, hitting .260 with 255 home runs and 882 runs batted in and Andy LaRoche played six seasons, batting .226 with 22 homers and 113 RBIs.
Jeff LaRoche after baseball spent a year as a ski patroller, six years as a police officer and SWAT team member, and four years as a restaurant owner.
LaRoche finally found his niche with E3 Ranch & Co., which was founded by Jeff, Adam and Jennifer LaRoche. The business is comprised of the E3 Headquarters, E3 Meat Co., E3 Chophouse Steamboat Springs, E3 Chophouse Nashville, E3 K9 Naturals, and the E3 Ranch Foundation.
LaRoche travels between Southeast Kansas, home of E3 Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Nashville, Tenn., where he has designed and developed restaurants. E3 Chophouse Steamboat Springs opened seven years ago, and the LaRoche family partnered with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan to open E3 Chophouse Nashville in 2019.
“I like that I am getting to solve a different problem every day and each day is never the same,” LaRoche said. “Just when you think you have everything figured out, it throws you a curveball, just like in baseball. You have to have the patience to solve those types of things and that is what I enjoy.”
Ten percent of all E3 net profits are donated to the E3 Ranch Foundation, which fights human trafficking and serves combat veterans.