Brett Roubal, a 20-year private practice attorney, was named Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc.’s president, a newly created position for the provider of preschool and early child care education.
Currently a partner at Baird Lightner Millsap PC, Roubal is scheduled to start July 1 at the company that does business as Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool. Nationally, the for-profit organization runs 22 schools, producing $36 million in revenue and employing nearly 640.
“I wasn’t looking for a change when this opportunity came up,” Roubal said, noting he was approached by Little Sunshine’s founder and CEO Rochette Dahler about the position around four months ago. “But once it did pop up, it was very difficult to put it out of my mind.”
Roubal said he’s had several years of prior experience with Little Sunshine’s, representing its corporate interests through his job at Baird Lightner Millsap. He’s worked at the firm for 15 years, previously practicing at Polsinelli PC.
While Dahler declined a phone interview, she responded via email that no other candidates were considered for the position. She said the president post was created for Roubal.
“He is a longtime and highly trusted ally,” she said. “He’s a perfect fit all around and knows my company inside and out from the many years we’ve already worked together at the law firm.”
Baird Lightner Millsap partner John Lightner said it’s going to be difficult to fill Roubal’s shoes.
“We’re sad to see Brett leave but are happy for his opportunity,” Lightner said. “He’ll be successful at whatever he’s going to be involved in, because that’s who he is.”
The firm doesn’t intend to add staff at this time, he added, but could potentially promote someone else to partner if the right person is identified.
“Otherwise, we intend to absorb the loss and maintain his book of business with quality representation internally,” he said.
Roubal said the decision to leave his longtime employer was a difficult one.
“I have a great practice with longstanding partners and quite a few friends who have become clients, and clients who have become friends,” he said. “I wouldn’t have set that aside just for anyone, or just for any position. I call this the ‘perfect opportunity storm.’”
As president, Roubal said he would be tasked with helping lead the Springfield-based corporate team, which includes Chief Financial Officer Amber Riddle and Chief Operating Officer Abby Davis. In addition, he’s also in charge of playhouse development, involving the construction and opening of new Little Sunshine’s schools across the country. Dahler said that includes roles in site location, leases, negotiation, acquisition and real estate development.
“My task is to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can not only from our team, but also from Rochette, who I will report to as the CEO,” he said.
With the hire, Dahler said the intent was to make the position the right fit for Roubal rather than the other way around.
“This is a strategy we frequently follow,” she said via email. “If we find someone we trust highly that is the right fit for our pace, culture and mission, we find a way to get them on the team eventually.”
Roubal is joining Little Sunshine’s as it’s in the midst of a multiyear growth curve.
The company recently ranked No. 6 on SBJ’s annual Dynamic Dozen list of fastest-growing companies. Little Sunshine’s reported three-year growth of 110%, while its employee growth is 46% over the same period.
An additional eight schools are currently in various stages of development, Roubal said.
He credits the existing working relationship with Little Sunshine’s as creating the new job opportunity.
“In hindsight, we were probably interviewing over the years without even knowing it, and I’m extremely thankful for that,” he said.
Web Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
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