By Will Hall, Message Executive Editor
LEAGUE CITY, Texas (LBM) – When Earl Heard dropped out of Louisiana College in 1962 he could not have imagined that he would be a featured speaker at a Texas A&M leadership symposium in 2014. But his dramatic change of fortune and the 52-year period in between reveal something about his struggles and successes as well as his unyielding drive to succeed.
What is not evident from these bookends to this part of his life story is that he was successful in building his business and media empire only after finally surrendering his all to the Lord.
Now, he spends a good deal of his resources creating faith-friendly books and films in his effort to promote greater faith and to support healthy, growing families.
Heard’s departure from Louisiana College was set in motion while he was on semester break, when a roommate’s brother robbed the school bookstore and then hid the ill-gotten textbooks in Heard’s room.
Neither Heard nor his roommate knew anything about the theft. But when the student body returned to campus, the discovery of the books put the thief, his brother and Heard under suspicion.
“We got back up there and were guilty by association. I learned to choose my friends more carefully after that,” Heard told the Baptist Message.
“I went to Louisiana College with the idea of becoming a teacher. That didn’t work out,” he said about his two years at the school.
“But God had another plan for my life.” “Making God, family and friendship priorities, instead of seeking fame and fortune at any cost, is the key to greater peace, happiness and success,” he said, summarizing lessons learned from the whole of his personal journey.
But, at that time God was not his priority.
He had grown up in a Louisiana Baptist home, but had enrolled at Louisiana College largely to be with a girlfriend, he said.
“I had accepted Christ at an early age,” he shared. He also went to church, “but only to please my parents.” However, although he did not share his parents’ deep faith back then, he did absorb the lessons they taught him about entrepreneurship and hard work.
After leaving Louisiana College, he toiled as a bricklayer and carpenter, earned a refinery position that led to his promotion to general foreman; and, he developed such expertise, particularly in fire safety, that he was made a training coordinator. Eventually his experiences in developing safety training resources led him in 1980 to step out on his own to create a business to service training needs in the energy sector.
Despite seemingly endless hours and endless miles in effort, his safety films were not a financial success. But, in 1981 he also had started the first petroleum industry training magazine, a venture that showed signs it was about to take off.
Yet he wanted to save his original business effort, because “I had put everything I had into it,” he said. “All my retirement money – everything — was in it,” he explained.
Then, despite his wife Bodi’s urging against it, he took out a mortgage on their home.
“She told me, ‘Look I love you, but you’re not making God number one. You’re not making your family number one; and, if you lose our home I am going to leave you.’” “Well, that’s what happened,” Heard confessed. “I lost everything.”
As he described it, he hit rock bottom and was alone in 1983.
RENEWED RELATIONSHIPS, REALIZED DREAMS
During this time Heard made a commitment to rebound from his ﬁnancial straits as well as the spiritual and personal poverty of his own making.
“I vowed I would restore my relationship with God, my family and friends,” he recounted.
He leaned on friends and worked several jobs to settle debts and raise seed money to start over.
He also made time to focus on prayer and reading the Bible.
Then, taking inspiration from the magazine he had previously developed, in 1984 he launched Business and Industry Coordinator, now BIC Magazine, a multi-industry trade publication that touches multiple professional disciplines.
Importantly, Bodi showed signs that she still cared for him, supporting him in his new pursuit with her earnings and tips as a hair stylist.
By 1987 he had shown her enough change in his priorities, she remarried him, and together they began building BIC Magazine into the premier journal in the energy sector, reaching 120,000 readers in print and online.
But God has given them favor in other areas of media and business, too, allowing them to build a conglomerate known as BIC Alliance that includes BIC Recruiting (matching proven professionals with key industry positions), BIC Media Solutions (which produces inspirational, family-friendly books and movies) and IVS (a mergers and acquisitions intermediary company, formerly known as Ind-Viro Marketing), along with the original BIC Magazine.
Heard was emphatic to credit his daughter and son-in-law, too.
“Our success as a Christian company is due in no small part to Thomas and Dane [Brinsko],” Heard offered. “He joined us in 1999 and they have been instrumental to growing the company and even growing my wife’s and my faith.”
Heard expressed gratitude for God’s patience with him on his life journey.
“I’ve been married 52 years and I’ve got a wonderful wife, one daughter and three grandkids,” he said. “My core business has grown more than I could have imagined and my investment bank, in just 18 transactions, has exceeded my greatest expectations.
“I always said that when I was ﬁnancially able, I would start publishing faith-friendly materials, not to make money, but to change lives,” Heard continued. “My wife is just as passionate as I am to change the world through media that is inspirational and family-friendly — books, movies, networking events, and TV shows.”
In that regard, Heard has produced “Gift Horse” starring John Schneider, in 2013, and “Urban Country” featuring Lou Diamond Phillips, in 2017. There also is a series of testimonial videos under the title “Rock Bottom and Back” that are moderated by Danny Trejo.
Heard also has written or otherwise published 13 books, including one for children, “Michael Learns to Listen.”
“It’s really become my passion,” he said of his publishing and producing endeavors.
But perhaps none of his works reﬂects Heard’s passion more than his ﬁrst book, “It’s What We Do Together That Counts,” which he is re-releasing in celebration of the 35th anniversary of BIC Magazine this year.
“It is our life story — how we started, how I was a believer but not a follower and how my life changed and how now I’ve got more faith, and, even at my age, still growing in my faith. It also focuses on the power of networking,” Heard said, explaining he deﬁnes the concept as “getting together so everyone can get ahead.”
But to fully understand what he means by “together,” readers need to pay attention to his inscription on one of the front pages:
“This book and the life about which it is written are dedicated to a loving and forgiving God, who has given me the strength to overcome adversity through faith, hard work and perseverance.”
He went from Louisiana College dropout to business and media mogul, together with God.
“It’s What We Do Together That Counts” will release in October on Amazon — in print, e-format and on Audible.