First Posted: 8/16/2012 10:17:16 AM | Last Updated: 8/16/2012 10:40:28 AM
LAFAYETTE -- Julie Rubsam said she felt a little intimidated in a room with some of Greater Lafayette’s best known entrepreneurs at her first Association of Women Business Owners meeting in Lafayette four years ago.
She and her husband Jason had just started Lafayette PC, located at 839 Main St., and there she was rubbing elbows with women who have had businesses for much longer – some nearly as long as she been alive.
“We were stepping into a world we’ve never been in before,” said Rubsam, now the president of the organization that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. “You have all of these well-known women in the community and I quickly noticed that I was one of the youngest members there.”
As she wraps up her year as president of AWBO, Rubsam, 36, said the women have become mentors, teachers and friends. In turn, she said she discovered skills she didn’t quite know she had.
“I never saw myself as a leader,” Rubsam said. “I don’t know if I would have found those qualities as quickly if I wasn’t a member of AWBO. The fact that you have people who believe in you and what you’re doing is amazing.”
Shirley Pence, owner of Stanley Steamer in Lafayette, is a former president of AWBO. She said she noticed quickly that Rubsam had the talent to lift the organization to new heights and encouraged her to get involved.
“She’s been an excellent president,” Pence said. “I’m now connected with her in other business networking type situations. Julie has natural leadership abilities. She’s able to follow up on the details of things and able to get big things accomplished. She’s a go-getter.”
Rubsam said she spends most of her time absorbing the knowledge of long-time business owners. She said one of her first experiences was working with Joan Fulton, head of agricultural economics at Purdue University.
“Joan owns a consulting business and does that on the side,” Rubsam said. “She’s a great facilitator during presentations. I learned so much from her. As a business owner just starting out, it was great. Serving on the board, I learned how the group worked.”
One of the things Rubsam brought to AWBO was a youthfulness and ability to reach out to recruit new and younger members. Her organizational skills came in handy when the association planned its 30th anniversary celebration, which happened over the summer.
“One of her biggest assets is her outreach into the community,” said Tammy Foley, owner of Foley Homes and a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Shook. Foley, as president-elect, will take Rubsam’s place as president this fall. “She involved in a lot of other activities and organizations that has brought a lot of good women to the organization. I hope I can follow with the success that she’s left us.”
Rubsam said once she joined, she wanted to establish a bridge between longtime members and newer members.
“It can be a very intimidating situation from the younger side,” Rubsam said. “Jason met some of the women in the organization out in the field and they told him about organization, so they were expecting me. Bev Larson sought me out when she found out who I was. It was nice to have that one contact person. Now we have members greeting people and do introductions.”
AWBO started meeting out of the YWCA in 1982 with 60 members signing the original charter for the organization. Although there is a national organization with the same name, Rubsam said the local chapter is not affiliated with the national and the Lafayette club is locally run.
“What we do is basically to support women business owners through education,” Rubsam said. “It’s interesting to hear about the challenges women business owners had over the years. We don’t necessarily have to go through those things today. There are still challenges, but the women then ran into a lot more.”
AWBO meets on the second Tuesday of each month at noon at the MCL Cafeteria in West Lafayette. Rubsam said she hopes women will find AWBO as a reliable resource for their business and a positive support system for their goals. Other members said Rubsam has done a lot of the encouraging herself.
“She’s inspirational to me,” Foley said. “I’ve been in business for well over 30 years and it’s inspiring to see someone so young that has the drive and everything toward business that I always possessed. She just is a doer. I like that in people.”