Clay Center native Jeff Breault would prefer not to be having this conversation.
Breault (pronounced “bro”) is a financial advisor with Carey, Thomas, Hoover & Breault who would rather be helping his clients instead of seeking attention for new ones.
He’s a liquor store owner who isn’t often seen in his R&J Discount Liquor in College Hill.
And he’s a vintage car collector who has a high-profile space to house his pride and joy, but he’d rather not say where.
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Still, he did politely stay on the phone long enough to answer a few questions.
You went to college to be an engineer. Why?
“Because I like to fix things. I just took apart anything that sat still long enough. Bicycles, lawn mowers, things like that. And I had an aptitude for math.”
It wasn’t for you in the end, though?
“I got to college and found that engineering was not going to be something that I wanted to ever do. It, ah, did not look nearly as exciting as I thought it did, and so that’s when I got into the financial services business.
“That’s all I’ve ever done for 25 years.”
What brought you to Wichita?
“I worked for a brokerage firm Willard Garvey used to own: Firm One Securities.”
What did you learn from Willard?
“Willard was a neat guy. Incredibly intelligent. I learned, I think, from the Garvey family. I mean, they’re just hard workers.”
What made you start your own business?
“I like the ability to service my clientele with the products and services we find they need, not ones that are placed in front of me by management from somewhere else.”
So is everyone investing with large, national firms making a mistake?
“I didn’t say that. Let’s just say it’s probably less personalized.”
If engineering wasn’t exciting for you, what makes financial services so interesting?
“The exciting part is meeting people from all walks of life, finding out where they’ve been, where they are and where they want to go and being a part of that.”
In 2001, your small investment company merged with another one to form Carey, Thomas, Hoover & Breault?
“I don’t know why they put my name at the end.”
That’s not your only business, though, right?
“In 1999, I purchased a retail liquor store.”
Is it true that R&J Discount Liquor was conceived at the nearby Harry’s Uptown Bar & Grill?
“That’s where we had the original business meetings to discuss the terms, yes.”
What were you drinking at the time?
“Tanqueray and tonic.”
How much are you involved with operations at the store?
“Very little. I’ve got a great staff.”
You also collect vintage cars, right?
“That’s my favorite subject.
“I love old cars. The history. The class. The lines. They style. All the cars today look the same. In the ’50s, ‘60s and ‘70s you could tell what a car was from a long way away. You can’t do that now.”
What do you drive every day?
“A GMC Yukon.”
“Because it’s dependable, and I can throw everything I want in the back of it.”
Most of your other cars have special names, right?
“That’s right. Bessie is a ’34 Pontiac. Gracie is a ’36 Packard. Dorothy is a ’32 Chevrolet. Lucy is a ’63 Corvette fuel-injected convertible.
“Three don’t have names right now: a ’67 GTO, a ’49 Jeepster, and an ’07 Corvette.”
Why aren’t they named yet?
“Well, the Jeepster is just the Jeepster. The ’07 Corvette is just kind of my go-fast car. I get in there and say holy ”
What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone?
“You can’t print that.”
Too bad, that’s a big number. Where’d you do that?
“That again is classified.
“Oh, and I forgot, Marilyn. Marilyn is my ’54 Cadillac.”
Any other hobbies besides cool cars, liquor and finance?
“What more does a man need?
“I can’t put girls in there. I’d get in trouble with the wife.”
Anything keep you up at night?
“The world is an unsettled place right now, and so there certainly is need for caution.”
Any advice for investors?
“My advice: Each individual has their own comfort level, and you need to find that and stay within that. The biggest mistake that people can make is investing outside of their comfort level, and when events happen, they can be forced into moves that they didn’t want to make, and that hurts their overall results.”
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
“I didn’t call you to put me in this thing. That’s what everybody’s going to think. They’re going to think, ‘Oh, geez, Breault ’
“I really don’t like to be out front. I like to be behind the scenes.”