By Phyl Newbeck
“I’ve always loved various art forms,” Bill Schubart said “and the strongest ones have been music and art.” Music was Schubart’s first love. After college he taught French at Mt. Abraham Union High School, but a barn in Ferrisburgh caught his eye and he and his brother purchased it and built a recording studio. “It grew much faster than we thought it would,” Schubart recalls, “so we started a record company in 1973 and that grew much faster than we thought it would.” Six years later, the music industry took a turn for the worse and when three of his record distributors went bankrupt, Philo Records declared bankruptcy as well. The company downsized and Schubart and his brother went without salaries for three years until they were able to sell to Rounder Records. “It was great fun and we had a great time,” said Schubart. “Probably 60-70 percent of what we produced is still in print.”
After the sale, the brothers kept their recording studio but changes in the cost of recording meant they needed a different business model so they merged with Blue Jay Films in Burlington to form Resolution, Inc. They started with television and audio work before adding mass produced cassettes, forming contracts with Delco/Bose for General Motors cars as well as the television show, “The Joy of Gardening.” Eventually, Resolution expanded into e-commerce and got contracts with National Geographic, National Public Radio, the History Channel and the New York Times, among others. At its peak, the company had 275 employees and sales of $28 million. After 27 years, Schubart sold the business to a private equity firm.
These days, Schubart’s creativity is focused on the written word. He has been writing since the age of 15, but after retiring he became more serious about his craft. He’s even won a prize for one of his short stories. That story appeared in his first short story collection, which was published in 2008. Schubart is about to publish his seventh and eighth books. One is another collection of short stories, but the second one is a novel which he believes reads more like an opinion piece and may not be recognizable to those who are familiar with his work.“ The content of my books varies tremendously,” he said.
Schubart has spent the last 15 years as a guest commentator on Vermont Public Radio. “I’m not a journalist,” he said. “I’m an opinion person, which gives me a lot of latitude.” While many might have difficulty coming up with ideas on what is sometimes a bi-weekly basis, Schubart has more than enough material. He has written over 200 commentaries and finds that the hardest part is expressing something complex in just 500 words.
As a child in Morrisville, Schubart was taught the importance of giving back to the community and he’s been doing so ever since, starting with a spot on the Board of Trustees of the Vermont Arts Council at age 26. He later chaired that board and several others, but his volunteering reached new heights when he was asked to take the helm of Fletcher Allen Health Care after then CEO Bill Boettcher was sent to jail. “I didn’t think I knew enough about health care,” he said. “It was difficult but it was an amazing learning experience.”
Schubart moved to Hinesburg in 1992 and has called the town home ever since. “I like the town,” he said. “I like the people, the size and scale, the sense of community engagement and diversity. It’s not appealing to me to live in a town with only people who are like me socio-economically. Hinesburg may be a suburb of Burlington but it’s much, much more than that.”
By Phyl Newbeck