A Salute to Veterans Who Now Serve as Franchise Owners
Every November, we proudly recognize the many veterans who work at Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services. About 10% of our franchise owners and corporate headquarters team are veterans. We appreciate their service to our country and to our company.
“The same characteristics that made veterans successful in their military careers – discipline, organization, leadership and being self-motivated – are likely to help them succeed in the business world,” says Pat Durkee, chief operating officer of Office Pride and a U.S. Navy veteran.
About 2.5 million U.S. businesses, including one out of every eight franchises, are owned by veterans, accounting for approximately 9% of all businesses, according to the Small Business Association. These 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses employ roughly 5.8 million employees nationwide.
Office Pride is a five-star participant in the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program. VetFran focuses on the education and facilitation of incorporating veterans into growing franchise brands such as Office Pride. Office Pride offers a 25% discount off the franchise fee to veterans who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces.
Because of Office Pride’s commitment to veterans and its impressive number of veterans among franchisees and corporate staff, Office Pride has been ranked among the Top Franchises for Veterans by both Entrepreneur magazine and Franchise Business Review.
Meet two of our veteran franchise owners, who carry fond memories of their military service and a lifetime of lessons and service with them to the office every day:
Van Sims, Navy Reservist
More than 25 years passed between Van Sims’ years in the Navy Reserves and his launch of Office Pride of Birmingham-Trussville, but some things never changed.
“My service helped shape a lot of the behaviors I have, and it’s amazing how those things stay with you over time,” he says. “I still get up early and pay attention to every detail. I expect that will always be with me.”
Sims, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, trained in San Diego and did most of his Reserves service at Birmingham’s Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center. During eight years in the Reserves, he spent two weeks every year in either Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia, or Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. He stays in touch with several friends from the Reserves.
Between his Reserves service and Office Pride, Sims worked in operations management for three large manufacturers in Alabama. With so much experience under his belt, he knew after the third job that the time was right for him to open his own business. Office Pride’s core values resonated with him, and the confidence he had built through years in the Reserves and in a career in operations led him to believe the franchise was a path to success.
Sims says he joined the Reserves for the college plan – the Navy paid for two years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham – but he learned more than he had signed up for.
“I learned so many lessons,” he says. “Some of those lessons I’ve been fortunate enough to share with people who didn’t have the same opportunities I had. One thing that I didn’t expect, which has been a huge blessing for me in owning my own business, is the impact that I’ve been able to make on people – especially those on my team. It’s very rewarding.”
Marc Stewart, Air Force Officer
Marc Stewart says his career in the Air Force taught him the value of discipline and integrity. Those traits primed him to become the owner of Office Pride of Oklahoma City-Edmond.
Stewart, who served in the Air Force for 16 years before retiring as a major, spent most of that time at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, on a Boeing E-3 Sentry aircraft, commonly known as AWACS.
In the military, he says, service members change jobs frequently and learn to be flexible and adaptable in many different situations. He added, “That’s a terrific asset for the owner of any business.”
In addition to his Office Pride franchise, Stewart owns and operates a real estate investment business for rental properties. He had owned some rentals while in the Air Force, then left that business for a while before returning to real estate after the military. “I bought my second first property right after retiring,” he says, laughing.
Stewart says veterans like himself make great franchise owners because they understand the importance of adhering to standards. “Military standards aren’t just posted on the wall. You have to follow them, because lives are at stake. In the civilian world, it’s more of a choice. But I appreciate that at Office Pride, there are standards, and we live by them.”