June 2021 Business Feature of the Month
Brazos Monthly was not always the well-known in-home magazine that it is today. The monthly circular that is now distributed to about 30,000 households in the BCS area was once just an idea in Mike Padgett’s mind. Over the last ten years, Padgett, the CEO of RGP Media Group, the parent company of Brazos Monthly and Texasliving, has taken this idea and turned it into his passion project, transforming the local publication into what it is today: the most widely distributed direct-mail magazine in the Bryan/College Station area.
Before the creation of Brazos Monthly, Padgett worked at the Hearst Corporation for about a decade and, during that time, commuted back and forth between his Texas markets and corporate headquarters in New York City.
“[Mike] had two very small kids at the time,” Rebecca Neighbors said, the Production Manager for Brazos Monthly and longest standing employee after Padgett himself. “He tells this really poignant story about how his oldest son, Reid, when he first started toddling around, would start to take things out of the suitcase and hide them because he thought, ‘if Dad only had one shoe, that Dad wouldn’t go away,’ and it was just heart wrenching.”
“I’d show up in New York City needing to go buy shoes for the corporate meeting the next day… It would show up in several ways, but [that] was one of the visual ways I remember noticing I was traveling too much,” Padgett said.
At that point, Padgett realized that something had to change. This became a turning point for the Padgett family and their future.
“When I decided it was time to let go of the corporate travel, the choices became clear: start a small business and stay in College Station or move to a larger city to reduce the travel for the industry I was in.”
The decision was made easier as Padgett and his wife, Bobbi Padgett, were already established in the BCS community through church, friends, and small groups. After noticing a gap in the BCS market for a shared-mail publication, the Padgett family took a giant leap of faith and started Brazos Monthly. This transition was not without sacrifices. To accommodate their newfound direction, Mike and Bobbi sold their dream house they had built in College Station and dramatically downsized their lifestyle.
“They took a risk and put everything into Brazos Monthly,” said Ashley Sullivan, the now Editor-in-Chief at RGP Media Group, who started in 2013 to help with logistics as Brazos Monthly began to grow.
“Family was more important [than the corporate job], and the sacrifices were worth it,” Padgett stated. “People should be put first and that was not what was happening as I was dealing with some changes in the corporate world. So starting our own business was a way to make sure that we were going to create something we enjoy, but also create an opportunity for other people to be able to thrive in a way that is honoring of them.”
RGP Media Group, which is named after Padgett’s two kids: Reid and Grace Padgett, dedicates itself to three principle values: honoring people, taking ownership, and having a positive attitude. Although these values were not put in writing and decided on by the company until 2019, these values were present and practiced from the very beginning.
“I think you could see our three values at the early stages, even though they hadn’t been named,” Amanda Hoevelman said, who is the COO at RGP Media Group. “I just remember when I first came on, the customers that Mike sold to in those early days were so valuable to him. It’s why he still wants to publish Brazos Monthly every month-- because he knows how much it benefits these businesses and that’s just another way of honoring people.”
“[Mike] has a passion for helping small businesses succeed and giving them an affordable tool to do that,” Neighbors said. Neighbors started at Brazos Monthly in April of 2012, less than a year after Brazos Monthly was established, and played a pivotal role throughout the beginning stages of Brazos Monthly.
Over the course of the last ten years, Brazos Monthly has become a publication that connects the BCS community together, introducing residents to local, trusted businesses. “[Brazos Monthly] gives residents the chance to find businesses that offer products and services they will need, and in many cases, as a result of Brazos Monthly, they will find a great value,” Padgett said.
“Ten years later, the business definitely looks different than I imagined when we started in July of 2011,” Padgett said. “Even though Brazos Monthly is not the only product that this company produces, it is the product that gave us the opportunity to create Texasliving and grow into markets across the state. All of it is produced and managed right here out of the Bryan/College Station area.”
Padgett is optimistic about the future of Brazos Monthly. “Over the next ten years, I see Brazos Monthly continuing to offer to consumers great values from trusted businesses in the BCS market and I see clients continuing to have a greater opportunity to connect with some of the best consumers in the BCS market.”
“We wouldn’t be celebrating ten years of business if it hadn’t been for clients who trusted us in 2011, and who still trust us 10 years later in 2021,” Padgett said. “To our clients, our entire company says thank you for the trust that you’ve placed in us and the belief you have in what our company and people do.”