A Cowboy Way of Life
08/17/2018 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Sammy Broussard Jr. [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
Sammy Broussard Jr.By Hailey Hensgens Fleming | Photos By Lee Ball
There’s something about a cowboy that incites pride and respect. Be it the wardrobe, the gentlemanly gestures or the high moral standards that beckon back to simpler times, the American cowboy was a kind that epitomized the best of what our nation could be. Many believe their time has long since passed, but if you know where to look, you can still find an elite group of individuals who don the hat and spurs, keeping the spirit of the cowboy alive. New Iberia’s own local businessman and accomplished horseman, Sammy Broussard Jr., is one of those select few who has also been fortunate enough to find success both in and out of the arena.
Working the land and embracing the cowboy lifestyle has been of utmost importance to Broussard and a permeating factor that has manifested in both his professional and personal lives. Whether managing his conglomerate of truck and tractor businesses, maintaining his 500-acre ranch, or preparing for and competing in horse cutting competitions, he has held himself to common sense principles that make up the Cowboy Code. Among these standards are those that teach one to “take pride in your work” and “be tough, but fair.” Standards Broussard learned not by words, but by action through his long standing family legacy of horsemen and his father as a guide.
“I’ve always enjoyed horses and I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy,” Broussard recounts. “The Broussards had the first cattle and brands in Louisiana. They were horse people so it was kind of a heritage that I grew up in,” he adds. Long days spent working the family’s two farms with his father are where he believes his passion for horses and strong character was built. Whether driving cattle with the cowboys of old Breaux Bridge, baling hay or raising horses, getting his hands dirty and facing the challenges ahead were unavoidable. Broussard never complained, but instead found enjoyment learning the trade and seeing the fruits of his labor. That same work ethic and positive perspective would prove to be the foundation through which Broussard would accomplish so much.
As he matured, Broussard’s underlying desire to do things well and drive to compete pushed him to great achievements. While at Catholic High School, his ambition materialized into a strong football and track career, a catching influence among his peers and instructors, as well as graduating distinction as Co-Valedictorian. While completing undergraduate study at USL, it pushed him to success in multiple intramural sports and the highest grade point average in his graduating class in the College of Commerce. After earning his degree in Business Management, it would serve him well yet again as he began his professional career in his father’s business, Sam Broussard, Inc.
Being that Broussard felt a strong responsibility to his family and had grown up among trucks and tractors, establishing himself in the family business was an easy choice to make. After spending several summers working there, he truly understood the fundamentals of the business and what was needed for it to function profitably. Broussard explains, “I started at Sam Broussard, Inc. at the bottom sweeping floors, then selling parts, then as a mechanic, then as a salesperson and then as operations manager.” His model was an undeniable success and within two years he’d increased the business from $1.7 to $5.5 million.
Opportunity knocked and in 1980, Broussard branched off into his own ventures opening an equipment center in Lafayette and later in New Iberia before returning to manage the Sam Broussard Trucking Company in the late 1980s. In the 25 years that followed, Broussard started three more leasing companies and eventually found himself as the owner and CEO of the Broussard Group, a conglomerate named to the Acadiana Top 50 and Top 100 Companies for over a decade.
Growing and managing a thriving business which, at its peak, employed 174 individuals was no simple task. Endless hours, sleepless nights and time away from his wife and four daughters were the cost, but Broussard could not deny his desire to succeed nor his eagerness to honor his family’s business. “Whether it was playing a football game, running a race or cutting cattle in a cutting horse contest, I believe if you work hard, have discipline and pay the price necessary then you can be successful,” he says.
Success did come, in ways greater than just profits, and in ways Broussard could be extremely proud of. “We had a very good company. It wasn’t the biggest, but we had a certain amount of pride in the company because of our outstanding service record,” he says. The company’s reputation for safety and service was not earned easily and Broussard is quick to give credit where credit is due, “We just had good people, people with good hearts and good minds that wanted to do the right thing. And, if you get good people and lead them in the right way, there’s so much you can accomplish in this world.”
Perhaps the proudest moment in his professional life, however, came after he saw the Trucking Company through the oil bust of the 1980s and his father let him know just how proud he was. Broussard tells the story, “After I was able to right the company and begin rebuilding it he told me, ‘Son, you have worked harder and smarter than I ever have. You will be very successful. Do not feel guilty when you get there, because you have deserved the fruits of your labor.’” Such words remained close to his heart, especially because his dad passed a short time afterwards.
Following in his dad’s footsteps and doing right by him was one of Broussard’s greatest ambitions, and with good reason. Just one month ago, Broussard was privileged to accept The Congressional Medal of Honor on his dad’s behalf for his contribution to the Office of Secret Service during World War II. In addition to capturing a German General and fifty troops with only 12 men under his lead, he worked behind enemy lines in France and Belgium and received the “Croix de Guerre” from both countries for heroic acts of service, the highest military award given to non-citizens. After he returned home from the War, Sam Broussard Sr. was an invested member of the community serving as a State Senator, one of the founding members of CODOFIL and head of several associations. “But, greater than any of his accolades, was the principles and morals he lived by and how he did his best to live his life as an example of how one should be lived. He was a great father and teacher and always will be my hero,” Broussard states. “He even ranks above my great admiration of John Wayne and President Ronald Reagan,” he adds with a laugh.
Broussard also followed his father’s lead with his passion for raising horses and cattle at his 500-acre ranch, “La Belle Cheniere,” cut out of the Cypress Island Swamp. It was there that he learned the tricks of the trade as a young boy and put in the hours that would one day make him the accomplished cutting horse trainer and competitor he is today. “I had my first horse when I was four. We called him T-Boy,” Broussard recalls fondly. “Daddy would put me on the horse and I’d just stay on him. When he’d finally get tired of me he would just lay down.” As an adolescent, with his dad’s encouragement, Broussard overcame his fear of failure and entered a high school rodeo. He won several classes and that taste of victory was all that was needed to hook his competitive spirit. “The thrill of victory is always very rewarding, especially when you work hard to get there,” Broussard confides.
He began competing regularly in various horse events and, with the exception of a break during high school and college, has continued up until this day. Years of practice and expertise have made him renowned among his peers, winning a World Finals in Cutting Horse competition as well as cutting and team penning competitions at The Houston Show and Rodeo. Numerous buckles, trophies and plaques adorn his office walls, a visual reminder of his multiple rodeo and horse racing achievements. However, for Broussard, it has become about much more than just winning.
“I’ve always loved developing something. Whether it’s an employee, my children or a horse, I’ve always loved the satisfaction of doing that,” he says. “I love being able to take a young horse and see what I can mold it into, especially a finished cutting horse, which is such a wonderful athlete.” Additionally, Broussard’s passion for the sport has afforded him a community of like-minded individuals and cowboys he is proud to call friends. “There’s just a certain thing about the cowboy heritage that has a lot of respect and decency in it,” he states. “Most people in the western world try to live by that and I find there’s just a lot of good people involved.” Among those are Broussard’s 450 fellow cowboys that make up the Texas Vaqueros, an organization in which members gather every year to compete and enjoy one another’s company. He adds, “These rides have provided me with a great amount of enjoyment, challenges and lasting friendships with people from all over America and I really look forward to this event each and every year.”
Life has somewhat slowed in recent years on his ranch and in his businesses. Operations for his trucking corporation sold in 2016, allowing Broussard to downsize his workload and focus on growing his two Kubota Dealerships. “I’m finally at what I guess a ‘normal’ schedule would be,” he laughs. “I’m at work by 8 a.m. and I’m coming home and it’s still daylight!” Although not what most would picture as “retirement,” Broussard is enjoying his new day to day. “There was a lot of stress and a lot of responsibility before, but I enjoyed seeing the results. What I’m doing now is more exciting because I’m taking a customer and trying to make them happy. It’s like giving candy to a kid!” he smiles.
Likewise, unforeseen circumstances created a set back at the ranch. After the Great Flood of 2016 left his ranch underwater for five weeks, Broussard was forced to sell off most of his cattle and lost all of his hay, the effects of which he is just beginning to recover from. However, with only 60 to 70 head of cattle and four horses left, he has come to look at it as a blessing in disguise. “I don’t have to make as much hay and work as hard,” he says. “Maybe that has turned into a good thing.” Broussard has also chosen to dial back on his competition schedule to take in the more enjoyable aspects of raising horses. “I’ve proven to myself that I can win. I’ve been fortunate enough to commit and win at the highest levels and I’m finally okay with that,” he admits. “I’ve met my goals and now I want to enjoy the horses more.”
Although he isn’t one to “slow down,” Broussard appreciates the slight change in pace knowing he always puts forth his very best. “I’m proud of what we did. It was hard, but it was good and I’m glad to be where we are now,” he says. “I’m back to enjoying life a little bit more and I’m going to have fun running my dealerships.” Moving forward, he’s excited about having more non-business time to spend with family and friends, but will always be looking ahead to the next challenge. He adds, “Whether it be teaching kids how to ride a horse or showing someone how to run a company, I just want to be able to help make the world a better place.”