Family Matters | Tami Rusch & Shannon Bobb

Our Family Matters feature this month follows sisters Tami & Shannon who are both Expanded Services workers at American. Coming from an entrepreneurial-minded family, it’s no surprise these two have the extensive industry knowledge that they do. Read below to learn more.

What is the birth order?

Tami: I am the oldest of the 5 kids

Shannon: And I am the 4th of the 5 kids. We have 1 brother and the rest are sisters.

What’s your favorite memory from your childhood?

Shannon: I remember our family always owned businesses and we worked at at least one. Our dad had a separate job when we were in Hayward, WI, but he was really immersed in the community and giving back. He was chamber president and always had his hands in different businesses. One of the businesses we own was the local and large clothing store. We wrapped presents on Christmas Eve and after a few days off, we went in on New Year’s Day and did inventory. We took a trip to Disney world when I was in junior high and  went on a cigarette boat and we all got so sunburned and had to lay in bed with our arms out. So many memories of family trips and good times together.

Tami: Like Shannon said, we were born into a very entrepreneurial family; we played as hard as we worked. We lived on a lake and we would ski in the morning before we left and as soon as we were done working we would hop back in the boat and ski until sunset. We spent the evening eating outside on the deck. We always had friends over and our house was the house that you wanted to hang out at. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people we pulled tubing and skiing. Our dad had a saying: “Faith, Family and Friends, if you have that you have everything.” We lived by that.

What was your first job and how old were you?

Tami: We had different job titles, but because it was a family business we did whatever job needed to be done. When it was Christmas time and you had 500 orders, the whole family packed them up and we got the job done. We did that for two weeks, including weekends. That was 15 of us and a few small kiddos, pulling shirts off the press, clipping embroidery, sorting, and packing. But it never felt like work because we were all together working towards the same goal.

Shannon: We were one of the first businesses in town to have the heat press machine. We printed and folded shirts in the front window of the store for hours.

Tami: This was back in the early 70s and we would go through a couple of hundred dozens per week. We had lines out the door for our custom shirts for birthdays and such, but it was hot in that cubicle!

Shannon: I actually had a job before that. I babysat a family that had 6 kids. I started at age 10 and went almost through high school.

Where did you go to school?

Shannon: I went to Saint Thomas for business marketing.  

Tami: I went to Saint Scholastica and University of Wisconsin Steven’s Point. I left school and went right into the workforce.

Shannon: We always joked, Tami went to the Ron Lambert (our dad) school of business. He would say, “I can teach you how to sell anything.” But that just wasn’t me. Tami is our Dad to a tee and she’s a great sales person who loves what she does.

Have you worked together before American?

Tami: Going back to being in an creative family, we owned a gift shop. As kids, we had to run the popcorn stand, and we were out there whether it was 60 degrees or 100 degrees. We also did chocolate covered bananas. We were responsible for keeping track of inventory and such. When we were running those stands, we got to keep the profit we made but could only spend 10% of it. We had to save the rest of it. It was a great experience in knowing what it means to run a small business and being responsible for all the expenses.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on together?

Shannon: The one that comes to mind right away was a reoccurring project where we were the provider for the largest Nordic ski race in North America, and every year we ordered all the clothes, picked out the designs and worked the stand for 12-14 hours a day at their expo to sell the clothes. It wasn’t just that we were with family all the time, you also got to meet people from all around the world at these events.

Tami: My favorite was when we all did the Musky Fest walk/run. We got to cut and sewed clothes for our family and all of the employees that wanted to join in. Not only did we get to have input, but the employees had input too. It was something outside of work that we all got to do together and brought together. Our sister from Louisiana happen to be there and she joined in on the fun that year. It was really special and a fun way to connect with our staff.

What’s a fun fact about the two of you?

Tami: I have a large number of tattoos, each one tells a part of my story.

Shannon: We live on the river just out of Chippewa Falls and we have a teepee. My husband’s uncles got into the rendezvous era and wanted to get a teepee and put it on our land. It’s honestly a landmark at this point. We have fires in it all the time. My husband cuts and peels the trees by hand to put the teepee together.

Why do you recommend working with family?

Tami: Working in a family business, you want everything to be successful. If you see something that needs to get done, you do what you have to do to get it done. You do your best for the customer, but also for the company. We’re working for a common goal; no red on profits and no loss sheets.

Shannon: You know their strengths and weaknesses, and you trust them. You can actually succeed a bit easier because you can push the limits while knowing they have your back. You can go out of the box and know you have people to back you up.

To learn more about American Solutions for Business, visit http://www.americanbus.com.

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