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So Long, Corner Office: Electronics Exec Goes From Speakers to Sculptures


Mark Rubin quit selling plugs and cables to create wood carvings and wall hangings.

At the tender age of 54, Mark Rubin, president of Long Island, New York-based Shogyo International Corporation, up and quit.

According to its website, Shogyo provides electronics manufacturers with "a wide selection of standard component designs, configurations, and features -- in your most frequently specified component areas -- plus comprehensive value-added and custom design capabilities."

2-12 Dip switch

Looking for 10,000 2-12 dip switches with 500 VDC minimum dielectric breakdown voltage between adjacent terminals?

Shogyo's got you covered.

2-12 Dip switch

In the market for a shipping container's worth of assembly-type mini circular DIN plugs with an extraction force rating somewhere between 0.9 and 3.0 kgs?

Look no further than Shogyo.

But while customers like IBM (IBM) and Fender may have been looking for these sorts of things, Rubin was looking for something completely different.

"I spent 30 years of my life hating what I did every day," he says.

"My original office was the size of a decent-sized bathroom and the furniture was a bunch of cardboard boxes turned upside down," Rubin says. "I worked from 3 a.m. to 8 p.m., but when my brother Howard joined me a year-and-a-half later, the hours changed -- I started getting to work at 4:30 a.m."

His commute wasn't too bad, which was both a blessing and a curse.

"I only lived about 10 or 15 minutes away from the office, and I chose the location because I could get there at any hour of the day or night," Rubin says. "Lunch was a sandwich at my desk, while I was on the phone, working, and I have to say, it's just really, really hard to have an artistic, creative heart and spend your days -- and nights -- behind a desk."

The path Rubin took is perhaps best illustrated by three photographs.

Who he was:
Rubin Before
Who he became:
Rubin After
And who he is today:
Rubin Today

Since 2004, Rubin and his wife, Nina, have been living in Ventura, California, where he creates sculptures and wall hangings out of found pieces of tree bark.

"You reach a certain point when you realize you only have a certain number of years on this planet," Rubin says. "I told my wife that I had never been happy doing what I was doing and she said, 'I know.' "

They had a long talk and decided to take the plunge. That meant relocating clear across the country, where Rubin could pursue his dream of being a full-time artist.

"At one time I sold jacks, plugs, speakers, and cables -- hundreds of thousands of them at a time," Rubin recalls.

Now, Rubin is selling things like Barky the Barkpecker:
Barky the Barkpecker

Along with his wife, Rubin shares his home with five rescue dogs, Chewy, Lucy, Phoebe, Rosie, and Noni, whom he affectionately calls his "panel of bark experts." A sixth, Rusty, passed away earlier this year.

However, the place Rubin seems to be more at home than he ever was before is in his own skin.

"I used to be extremely well-off, living in a big house on Long Island with hired help," he says. "Now, I live in a small home on the California coast, making a living -- just a different kind of living."

"I paid my dues to live this sort of life," Rubin points out. "I sold my share of the business to my brother, sold my home, and five days later, bought my place on the West Coast."

Nothing seems to delight Rubin more.

"How thrilled how can you get about selling plugs? To just live and then die is terrible," he says. "Now, I'm the quintessential happy man. I have a terrific wife, three healthy, happy kids…it doesn't get any better than this."

It certainly doesn't. In Rubin's words, "I wake up each day singing."
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