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Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner: From Receptionist and Radio Personality to VIB Network Founder

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Vice-President of a second-generation printing business and co-founder of VIB Network, Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner shares how these two organizations started and what is her motivation for helping veteran-owned businesses across the board. 

BACKGROUND

Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner has over twenty-five years of experience in sales and marketing. She started her career as a receptionist and then a radio sales and on-air personality.

Then, in 1996, she started managing their SDVOSB/DVBE second-generation printing business in San Diego, the Diego & Son Printing, as the Vice President and co-owner.

For 48 years in business, the company has won several awards including the MBE Supplier of the Year and Family-Owned business of the Year. Rebecca was also given various awards including the Leadership Award at the Women of Excellence event with Diversity Professionals in 2019. 

Apart from that, she is also an active member of the Business Leaders United and Business Forward and the co-founder of Veterans In Business (VIB) Network, a nonprofit 501(c)3 that advocates for all veteran-owned businesses nationwide.

THE ORIGIN OF DIEGO & SON PRINTING BUSINESS

The Diego & Son Printing started with Rebecca’s parents in 1972 after her dad, who was a Pressman, got laid off and saw an opportunity for them to get an SBA loan if they would start a business. 

Fortunately, they were able to get a loan worth $30,000. With it, they bought an old school letter press and bits and pieces of equipment and papers needed. Then, they worked in their little garage, not knowing that they will grow and last for almost 50 years. 

“Then they went and they worked their butts off and they were in like a little garage kind of place. And then they grew. And they grew and grew. And then we eventually moved to our own corner lot. And I had several large presses. We had about almost 30 people working for us at the time at our height. You know, our bill alone for print was almost 40,000 for paper. So it’s always so funny you think, okay, that’s what they started off with.”

Being part of a growing company, Rebecca also learned about business and how to communicate with people. While her dad inspired her to think outside the box and be creative, her mom also kept telling her that everything’s negotiable in business. 

“So, my mom would always say, everything’s negotiable. You know, now nothing is ever set in stone. So I was so, I mean, I grew up that way.”

OVERCOMING STRUGGLES IN BUSINESS

One of the greatest struggles that she had faced while managing the business was during and after the recession where they took another two or three years just to get out of debt.

“When everybody says the recession’s over, you’re like, ‘Okay, it’s not over,’ because you still have those bills that, you know, you got into it in the first place. So, you know, getting all of yourself out of the debt that you’ve got into, if you’re still in business.”

However, they were able to overcome it. That struggle even helped the business to become lean and streamlined and for her to put value on her personal growth. 

“Well, this year, we’re gonna stay lean and, you know, we just keep on learning and learning, developing new courses, you know, taking everything, every webinar I possibly can take to learn different things. So, you know, really utilizing this time to grow, I think that personally.”

VETERANS IN BUSINESS (VIB) NETWORK

For years, Rebecca’s company is certified as a service-disabled veteran-owned business and they were also part of an organization for about 13 years. 

However, Rebecca then felt that veteran business community needed something different: a place and a more streamlined approach to connect with each other, the corporations, and government agencies; so, she and Cole Woodman established VIB Network.

“You know, if we’re going to make, we really want to make a real change. We’re the ones there— if we want to see real change in the veteran business space, then we’re going to, we’re going to do it.”

With the use of the organization and the platform, veterans can then join the directory of veteran members and use the event calendar and opportunity board.

The organization is also developing different webinars, applications, and programs to help them in matters including communicating with their staff and growing their business, among others. 

Most importantly, it is free to join VIB Network because the organization is run with the help of different organizations and corporate and government sponsors. 

“We wanted to make this a free organization for veterans to join and participate because we feel that a veteran, you have already served their time and they’ve already, you know, they have served the country and, you know, to nickel and dime them for to be part of a directory, we didn’t feel that that was appropriate.”

RESOURCES

If you want to learn more on how Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner managed their second-generation printing business and the VIB Network, then be sure to click the resources below.

You can also visit the GovCon Giant website or the new GovCon Edu where you learn everything about government contracting!

071 – Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner – the women behind the vision and mission of the VIB Network

https://govcongiants.com/podcast/071-2/

From RADIO PERSONALITY to VIBNETWORK.ORG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zQpK6ywMMQ&t=1s

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