Meet the California Document Preparers Team: Bill Schaaf

Meet the California Document Preparers Team: Bill Schaaf

For January, California Document Preparers is profiling Walnut Creek office co-owner Bill Schaaf. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Bill worked his way through college, was a member of both the United Steel Workers and Laborers Unions, and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

The beginning of a long, successful retail career

Bill’s first job out of college was with Kaufmann’s Department Store; he was the Boyswear buyer at age 25, and a buyer of Missy sportswear a year later. The next year, he was recruited by Oakland’s Capwell’s to become Missy Sportswear buyer. By that time, Bill was married to Mary, and they had three kids, so they packed up, moved to California and bought a home in Walnut Creek. Another promotion soon followed, and at 28, Bill became Merchandise Manager of All Missy and Woman’s Sportswear and Men’s and Women’s Shoes. Bill managed eight buyers–all four to 30 years older than he.

If you don’t recognize Capwell’s, you may recognize Emporium, with which the company merged in 1980, and Bill’s new position was Merchandise Manager of Accessories. He was soon promoted to VP and had four merchandise managers and 18 buyers reporting to him. “I was in New York monthly, Europe and the Far East on a regular basis and enjoyed the challenge of being the first to maximize new trends. I retired from Emporium after 15 years, but was still a young, so I took four months off to figure out what to do next. I spent some time with my aging parents and solo hiked in Yosemite.”

Time to change course

Bill went to work at Esprit De Corp—this time to learn how to develop merchandise, rather than buy it. In 1994, he opened his own business, R&B Bags, and for the next ten years made private-label handbags for Nordstrom, Macy’s, the Limited and Dillard’s. “I loved the creative process, and the friends I made in Korea and Italy were terrific. My wife Mary joined me in 1995, and we’ve been working together for the last 20 years.”

California Document Preparers was born

“In 2003 a friend introduced me to the legal document business. After a lot of research, we opened an office in Walnut Creek and became part of a franchise called ‘We The People’; we later separated from the franchise and its many limitations, developing our own business model, which was much more customer-centric. I think this goes back to my retail background. We changed our name to California Document Preparers and developed a new tagline ‘Helpful, Compassionate and Affordable’.

Fortunate to enjoy a busy, full life

“It’s been 13 years since we opened our doors, and our business continues to grow. This is my third career, and it’s by far the most rewarding. I go home every day feeling good about the work we do, the relationships we’re building and the service we’re providing. More than 60% of our clients are referrals and repeat business, and it’s our team that’s provided the stability to help us grow–Barbara, Caitlyn, Kathleen, Brook and John are committed to our clients’ receiving the best service possible.

“Mary and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary this year and we love to travel. We have four children and five grandchildren and I love playing with all of them. Staying fit and healthy is important to me; I do yoga and belong to a running club, and we take advantage of the great East Bay trails. I’m looking forward to another great year!”

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to create a Living Trust, California Document Preparers has three convenient Bay Area offices: Walnut Creek, Oakland or Dublin. We help you through every step of the process.