Robin Breard grew up working in the family business. Now she runs it.
When you hear about someone who’s been at the same company for more than 30 years, you pay attention. It’s so rare to see that type of career longevity these days. Changing jobs and even careers every few years is today’s new normal. But for Robin Breard, working from a young age—and then sticking around—at supplier Custom Printing II (UPIC: CUSTOMCR), the company her parents, Bob and Judy Carlson, founded more than 30 years ago, has been worth every minute and has translated into a great quality of life.
“I live in the wonderful city of Belton in Central Texas,” Breard says, “And I work with my husband of 27 years, Frank, who is our director of manufacturing.” Speaking of longevity, Frank has been with the company for 23 years after serving in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm. The couple has two sons, Joseph, 24, a Baylor University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, and Nicholas, 16, a high school senior. Recently they gained a daughter, Taylor, when Joseph married last year. Breard also has four sisters and a brother, three of whom live in Texas. And then there’s the family’s faithful and beloved Doberman, Rocky, who is 10.
With most of her family nearby, life is pretty good for Breard. “I love to travel and spend time with my family. We have been very blessed to be able to see much of the world over the years. I treasure every moment,” she says. And she takes the time to enjoy her passions. “I love working with animals, horseback riding, reading, studying and playing Guitar Hero, of course.”
How long have you worked in your present position and how did it come about?
I took over the family business in 1996. I grew up in the business and within the industry. My parents worked at a couple of different companies within the industry before starting Custom Printing in Belton. As soon as I was old enough, they put me to work helping out everywhere and anywhere. We moved to Belton in 1987 from Austin and I was one of the first employees along with just a handful of other people. Then one day while I was going to college and working at the plant part time they mentioned they were looking for an office manager. I told them, “I could do that job,” and the rest is history.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love working with the people. I appreciate getting to know the employees that work so hard every day to make Custom Printing successful. I also appreciate getting to know our customers as I attend shows and make sales calls. There are really great people in our industry and within our company. I also love the challenges being in business brings on. Who doesn’t love a challenge?
What was your first job, and what lessons did you learn?
My first job was with Trendco, an industry supplier of mugs and glassware, in Austin, Texas. I was young and just experiencing all the different aspect of production, shipping, order entry, art, etc. I learned a lot. But probably the biggest thing I learned is that it is not easy to run a business, and you need a lot of great people and a lot of support. I have been blessed to be personally taught by two of my most favorite people in the world, my mother and father. They were never easy on me and always made me work. But the things they taught me over the years are priceless.
Who has had the biggest influence on your professional career and why?
Besides my mother and father, I would have to say several of my college professors at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton had a lot of influence on me. I had the great fortune to have some of the best professors in my fields of study—economics, finance and accounting. They brought real-world experiences into the classroom and pushed us to be ready for the business world that awaited us. I still have close relationships with many of them. I can honestly say that they certainly helped develop me as a young adult into the person I am today.
What motivates you in business and in life?
I am motivated by success. I strive to be successful in all aspects of my life. I inspire to be the best business leader, mom, wife, daughter, friend, Christian and ultimately the best person I can be all the way around. It isn’t easy sometimes, but I am always motivated by being better. Being involved with Custom Printing from day one, I have had the privilege of seeing and being a part of the whole process. I remember when I would come in to work during high school and help with order entry and answering the phones. I remember how excited we were when we got our first order, then 12 orders, and then they just kept growing and growing. We celebrated the first dollar we received (which Bob and Judy still have). I remember watching the company grow and how much work it took from everyone involved. I experienced the growing pains right along with everyone and that is where the motivation for success was implanted in me. It became part of who I am.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
I would have to say that I think my greatest professional accomplishment has been in developing my career. Staying 32 years at the same job and in the same industry takes persistence, drive, patience, ambition and love of the job. I see very few people in the labor market today that have stuck with one career choice. There have been many times throughout the years I have questioned if there was something else I was meant to do, but I honestly love my job, and really couldn’t see myself doing anything else. While taking over a family business is not always easy, my mother and father have made it an extremely easy transition in all aspects. They have said they are thankful I was interested in taking on the business, but I am thankful for the opportunity and am blessed to be in such a position.
What advice would you give to an industry newcomer?
First, I would welcome them to one of the best industries on the planet. It never stops being exciting and fun. You truthfully never stop learning. And the people within the industry are great people. My advice would be to learn as much as you can about all aspects of the industry, both on the supplier and distributor side. Meet as many people as you can within the industry. And finally, get involved and help make the industry even better.