After more than 15 years as a sales executive for a building materials distributor, Andy Byrd lost his job in January 2009.
It was an unexpected blow—a result of the economic crisis that plagued the country.
Byrd, 43, a husband and father of three, said he had to move quickly on replacing his income. The planets aligned for him during a visit to Victory Awards & Promotions in the Severna Park Village shopping center.
He was there to buy award merchandise for a church function when he met a longtime employee of the shop, 83-year-old Robert Gaia, a WWII veteran. Gaia said that the owner was looking for a buyer for the business.
"That employee is a special person to me," Byrd said.
"He [Gaia] told me that day that I should consider buying the business because he could tell that I would be a good person to work for. He [Gaia] worked faithfully until his health forced him to retire at the end of last year," Byrd told Patch in an email.
Byrd is the fourth owner of the company. He purchased the assets in the summer of 2009 and closed the deal in October. The shop carries a full line of trophies, plaques, spirit wear, signs, banners, apparel, awards, wedding accessories, marketing materials and more. Engraving and embroidery are also part of the store's services.
Entrepreneurship runs in the family
Byrd comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Both of his grandfathers owned successful businesses. His father is a consultant in the automotive industry and his mother and stepfather also own businesses.
"You could say it’s in my blood. I have always wanted to own my own business and now I’m 'living the dream,'" Byrd said in an email to Patch.
When he lost his job, Byrd didn't expect to be owning an awards and promotional product business.
"I had been praying about what the Lord had next for me and I literally walked into the opportunity," he told Patch in an email.
Now a small business owner
Byrd is partners with his wife Lucy and said it is a great way for the couple to spend more time together while introducing their children ages 15, 13 and 10 to the business world. By owning a business, Byrd said, "We could introduce them to good business skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives."
Today, business is brisk and growing for the couple.
"Lucy and I really enjoy working together, but it can be a challenge for Lucy trying to juggle being a full-time mom, wife and a business owner. Lucy handles everything with so much grace and patience. She is an amazing women for sure," Byrd said.
The shop, located upstairs in the Severna Park Village shopping center above the Savvy Home consignment shop, has a newly-expanded showroom with a mix of recognition items. such as trophies and plaques plus wedding accessories, apparel, ribbons, uniforms and more.
"We help people with branding and help recognize people with trophies," Andy Byrd said.
"Everything happens for a reason," Byrd said. "I'm very blessed to do what I want and with people I love helping me."