Originally from Maine, Jeff Ryder describes himself as a "an avid New England sports fan" and has a picture of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the wallpaper on his computer. But now Ryder and his wife, Brenda, live and work in Carrollwood as the owner-operators of Carrollwood Copy Center and Printing at 11406 N Dale Mabry Highway.
They bring their 10-year-old dachshund, Angel, to work with them every day and call her the store's greeter.
"A lot of people come in — just to see the dog," Jeff said.
Recently, Jeff Ryder, 58, became president of the board of the Carrollwood Area Business Association, or CABA, a nonprofit organization he credits with helping his business grow and making lots of friends since it first opened in 2008. Times correspondent Lenora Lake recently sat down with Ryder to talk about his involvement with the association.
How did you start bringing your little dog to work with you?
We support many animal charities. Our little Angel is a rescue and we wanted to make sure she would be well taken care of. Our customers love her and often they may stop in just to see her.
What are some of the challenges of running a copy/printing business — with having to compete with chains that are open 24 hours a day?
I think some of the challenges are keeping up with technology and also knowing what product or service our customers are looking for. We try very hard to make sure our customer service skills are second to none. When you choose to select us for your important printing project, you will have the same consistent service. I think that is what separates us.
Why is Carrollwood a good place to do business?
It is a great community, great schools, business owners, restaurants and, of course, great people. It is so awesome to see how we often rally around each other. This is a very warm and caring community and my wife and I are proud to be part of it.
What got you involved in CABA?
When we bought the business in 2008, we didn't know what we were getting into. Someone said, "We've got to get you to join CABA." I was quite taken aback by everybody's willingness to help. And to this day, it the same philosophy.
How did CABA help your business?
Business just didn't fall in my lap on day one or day two. But through CABA, I started to develop relationships; I have many near and dear friends I met through CABA. There are a lot of great people.
How many members does CABA have?
There are 395 member businesses with about 500 business professionals — some business have two members — in the group. We started in 1981 and just celebrated our 30th anniversary.
What makes CABA so popular when so many people turn to social media to advertise their products, network and promote their business?
The organization is so well-respected and has such a tremendous reputation. The friendships and relationships that have developed over the last 30 years are second to none. It just makes sense to reach out to a CABA member first.
What made you want to be president?
I had been on the board previously and I think I've got a pretty good story as a CABA member. I want to help others achieve the same success. That would be very near and dear to me.
What are CABA's strong points and some things that need improvement?
Last year was very, very successful and we got a new website up. But we need to improve our technology and start utilizing our website for all functions. This year we have a nice clean path to focus on our members. I want our members to know we appreciate them. This year's board is very focused on that.
How do you think the Patriots will do with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games? And how do you think the Tampa Bay Bucs will do?
I'm sorry to say to all the non-Patriot fans, but we will be just fine. Brady will be well-rested and slightly angered. The Bucs will be much improved; it looks like they have upgraded in some areas, especially coaching. We are Bucs fans as it's all about supporting locally.
Sunday Conversation is edited for brevity and clarity. Contact Lenora Lake at [email protected]