ELKO – The Stockmen’s, Commercial Hotel and the Scoreboard have all recently undergone physical renovations. In two weeks the Stockmen’s will sport a new mural on its south side. The property will also be getting ready to remodel for its newest partnership with Old Chicago Pizza. Amidst all the change, the casinos, owned by Northern Star Casinos, have also found a new general manager, Ben French.
“Ben French, who has been the general manager at Gold Country for the past 24 years, is now the general manager of the Stockmen’s and Commercial Casinos,” said Dave Zornes, CEO of the three local properties.
“Being in a position for 24 years, you feel very comfortable,” said French. “When I left there (Gold Country) and came down here it put some excitement into my life. I know they have a solid team down here. For me it’s a really good fit.”
French said he is really excited about the Old Chicago Pizza coming to the Stockmen’s.
French has been in the community for almost 30 years.
“I love the community and love the people so that is where I tend to gravitate,” French said.
French has been active on a number of local boards.
French loves being intertwined with the history of the casinos, especially since the Stockmen’s and Commercial are icons in the Elko gaming industry.
French oversees all operations at the casinos, including gaming, food and beverage, marketing, and lodging.
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French was in charge of Gold Country when the casino opened JR’s.
French is proud of the work he does.
“I try to explain to my employees that they are the ones that make a business work,” French said. “Your most important asset is your employees.”
French gauges his day as to the needs of the facilities. Most days he puts in about a 12-hour shift.
“In this business you really don’t have a set schedule and you really don’t have days off,” French said. “You have to really love it and have a passion for it or it will drive you crazy.”
French talked about the upcoming renovations the Stockmen’s and the City of Elko are planning for the dirt parking lot to the east of the building. He also mentioned how he likes that the business is helping out with the Elko Mural Festival, housing the outside artists that are coming in to paint in downtown Elko.
“We are excited to welcome Ben to the Stockmen’s and Commercial Casino’s team,” said Melissa McJunkin, corporate marketing manager for Northern Star Casinos. “It is apparent that he believes in these properties and recognizes the historical value that they hold. I am thrilled and ecstatic to work with Ben and to learn from him, as well.”
“We know what we have here and we take care of it,” French said. “We give back to the community whether it’s through employment or projects like this [the Elko Mural Festival].