A Chico-Carolina Connection
A Chico-Carolina Connection
In 1992, Gary Broome and Stephanie Smith each thought they were the only North Carolina-native at Chico State—that is, until they met at an off-campus party. Even then, neither of them imagined that, nearly 20 years later, they’d be partners in an East Coast advertising agency and celebrating a decade of success.
Broome (BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’94) was an Air Force brat who eventually landed in Chico, while Smith (BA, Journalism, ’95) found Chico during one of the Grateful Dead’s West Coast tours. “I was new to town and didn’t know a soul,” recalls Smith. “After three weeks of meeting really nice folks, I hadn’t really found ‘my people.’ [At a party] many seemed bewildered by my accent, until someone grabbed my hand and said, ‘There’s another one of you out on the deck!’ and introduced me to Gary.”
Their Carolina connection made Broome and Smith instant friends, and their schoolwork cemented the friendship. After graduation, Broome moved to Asheville to start his graphic design career, and Smith, staying in Chico, gave him her father’s telephone number. Broome ended up working at Smith’s dad’s fly-fishing shop, after which he developed his skills at small ad agencies.
In 1997, Smith returned to Asheville to visit her father before starting a public relations career in Charlotte or Atlanta. She and Broome reconnected over Sierra Nevada beer, and Smith soon decided to lay down roots in her hometown.
Asheville is the perfect place for two creative CSU, Chico grads, say Smith and Broome, citing a rich visual and musical arts scene, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and great food and microbrews. And with Sierra Nevada locating a second brewery in nearby Mills River, the local microbrews will take on a decidedly Chico flavor.
Smith and Broome worked together at Peppertree Resorts before starting their own company. The Brite Agency, a full-service marketing, advertising, branding, web, and public relations firm, was formed in 2001, with each partner bringing a laptop, a couple pads of paper, and $500 to the table.
“I can’t tell you how much our Chico State education has helped us in our field,” says Smith. “For me, I flash back to Tehama Group and how hard we worked there, and I appreciated [journalism professor] Bob Vivian for his orange pen and years of encouragement. For Gary, it’s what he learned from Greg Berryman and Kevin Cahill in the graphic design department.”
Broome agrees. “It was our hard work in Chico that put us way ahead of our competition,” says Broome. “We’re so proud of what we have accomplished, and we have Chico to thank for that. The only thing that would make it better would be having more Chico alums on our staff some day.”
CONCANNON (BS, Business Administration, ’85) is a fourth-generation vintner at Concannon Vineyard.
(BS, Business Administration, ’94) is the human resources manager for the News & Review, headquartered in Sacramento.
(BS, Business Administration, ’87) is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Epicor Software Corporation.