Julie Morgan Brigman is Senior Advisor for Transworld Business Advisors – but many from the area may recognize her as the 15-year owner of Pet Emporium in South Beach Regional shopping center. Brigman, who lives on the Intracoastal Waterway with her husband, has worn many different hats during her career – but has always been her own boss. After a three-year stint in a corporate environment, Brigman decided she would never work for anyone else again.
“I found out pretty quickly that corporate life is not for me,” Brigman said. “I’m too entrepreneurial. I have to have my own business – have to do it my way. And now [other entrepreneurs] are the people that I try to help.”
At Transworld Business Advisors, Brigman works to match business sellers with appropriate buyers. Usually the transactions aren’t local and aren’t hands on, but recently Brigman took a personal interest in the sale of Littlebits resale store from a Nocatee family to a Jacksonville family. For more about Transworld, visit www.tworld.com.
Tell me about where you’re from and your time on the First Coast.
I’ve been in Jacksonville since 1964, but I was born in Idaho of all places. My dad worked for 3M Company and he was transferred here. My mom and I also owned the Pet Emporium in South Beach Regional for 15 years, one of four pet shops at the Beach. We sold that one in 2000. The broker that sold Pet Emporium hired me – he thought that I’d be a good business broker. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
What does a business broker do?
A business broker is kind of like a marriage counselor or dating service. We are an intermediary and we have to find the perfect buyer for the perfect seller. It’s different than buying a home – every buyer has different skills and abilities, while every business is completely different.
We have to make sure that they match. They have to like each other. They have to be interested in the same things. They have to hit it off for the sale to go smoothly.
Every day is different. We screen a lot – responding to potential buyers. Every morning I may have 20-30 buyer inquiries, and I have to send out confidentiality agreements because the businesses are all listed generically. Out of all the buyers that fill out the confidentiality agreements, maybe one or two percent are ready, willing and able to purchase a business.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I enjoy my pets of course. My husband and I go boating, and because we live on the Intracoastal Waterway, it’s easy for us to do. I’m also a runner. But most of all I like to work! I love making new people entrepreneurs.
How did you originally get into the pet shop business?
I was in college and my dad died suddenly. My mom and I knew that we had to hit the ground running, financially. We just didn’t know what to do – but we had to do something, and we both loved animals. We opened the pet stores and we became very successful.
Your love for animals extends to horses, too?
I ride horses and work in a networking organization with horse lovers all over the United States to rescue horses. You’ll get a call and it will often be confidential, telling you that there’s a horse in trouble, not being fed or wandering somewhere. We get on the phone or on Facebook to gather everybody and make the rescue.
We try to work with the owner, and often we’ll place the horses. When we had the downturn in the economy, often owners just couldn’t feed their horses. We’d end up taking them to the rescue and then finding better homes for them – with the permission of the owner. We also have people all over the country that go to what they call “kill pens” and pick out horses they can save, that they eventually find homes for.