How the Printing Biz Was a Better Deal for This U.S. Military Veteran

How the Printing Biz Was a Better Deal for This U.S. Military Veteran

How the Printing Biz Was a Better Deal for This U.S. Military Veteran

Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees.

Coming from a career managing multiple locations for a large franchise company, Greg Kingsbury had a leg up on operating a franchise himself.

Just shy of a year ago, the U.S. military veteran signed on with Better Deal Printing, founded in 2001 by Lawrence Curell, a disabled Army veteran. Initially started as a home-based, business-to-broker printing company, it has evolved over 15 years into a full-scale production operation that currently serves clients in 21 countries on four continents.

Larry Curell
Image Credit: Better Deal Printing

Curell’s drive behind the business was to give back to the veteran community and help veterans become business owners in the high-growth area of print, promotional products and corporate apparel. The company offers reduced franchise fees for veterans and disabled veterans. It is competitive by offering lower royalty structures and by owning the manufacturing companies that produce a large portion of the products that the franchisees sell.

Better Deal Printing was officially franchised in 2015 and has been growing fast with plans to add another 50 franchises in the next five years to the system.

Below, Kingsbury describes just how perfect a fit this franchise was for him and his confidence of future growth within the company.

Name: Greg Kingsbury

Franchise owned: Better Deal Printing of Northern Arizona

Q: How long have you owned a franchise?

11 months

Q: Why franchising?

Being part of a franchise offers the benefit of a support system which is valuable to start of your new business and ongoing support throughout the life of your business. I was able to walk into a ready-made business with a proven concept, which makes it easier to get started.

Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I have been managing multiple locations for another large franchise company for the past six years. Before that, I was a national marketing director for International Event Promotions Company.

Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?

With my other position, I had the opportunity to work directly with Better Deal Printing (the production side) as a vendor to provide quality print products to my customers at very affordable pricing. My business relationship with Larry Curell evolved into an opportunity to move into owning my own business without going broke in the startup phase.

They really worked with me to make it affordable and easy to be able to own my own business. Beyond that, the support they offer is second to none. They are always available to me and are proactive and concerned with making sure I am successful.

Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

$13,000 estimated. $10,000 of this expense was the franchise fee for buy-in to Better Deal Printing. The remaining $3,000 covered a new computer, software, business insurance and minimal office supplies and equipment to get going.

This is a “work out of my home” business, so the major things that typically eat at your finances (like a brick-and-mortar building) weren’t an issue here. My house and my car are my office.

Q: Where did you get most of your advice / do most of your research?

Having been a part of a major franchise for many years, my experience became my own advice.

Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Taxes and paperwork. Although I managed other people’s businesses for most of my adult life, I had never owned one. I could not have imagined how important every piece of paperwork was going to be to create a solid paper trail with my finances. Better Deal Printing made it easier, as they have vendors and support in place with discounted pricing negotiated.

Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Research the company. Read and understand your contract — there is a lot of legal stuff in there. Find a great accountant to get you set up correctly from day one. Make sure this is something you really want to do for a long time. You don’t want to buy into something and find out you hate it. That’s what working for other people is for.

This is your business — and you should love it! Overall, if you are wanting to be your own boss, this is a really inexpensive and safe (safe as owning a business can be) path to follow. Most of the ground work has already been done for you. You just have to put forth the effort to build strong relationships within your area, and good things will happen.

Q: What’s next for you and your business?

Well, I’ve brought on a new independent sales consultant to help me grow my local market and spread out a bit. Beyond that, I am hoping to open another location within the next three years and hopefully one more before I hit the five-year mark.

Grow, expand, enjoy. What else could I want?


Veteran Franchisees, We Salute You (Infographic)

Veteran Franchisees, We Salute You (Infographic)

Veteran Franchisees, We Salute You (Infographic)

Image credit: Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

After serving our country in the military, many veterans continue to promote our national interests through entrepreneurship.

Consider that franchises owned by veterans have generated 815,000 jobs nationally, according to an infographic by accounting software and services company The Sage Group in collaboration with the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA). Furthermore, the 66,000-plus veteran-owned businesses in the country add $41 billion to the U.S. GDP every year.

It’s not surprising that veteran-owned businesses do well. After spending time in the armed forces, veterans have leadership experience and are skilled at following precise procedures and directions. Veterans tend to be team focused and mission oriented, which is helpful in both military and business operations.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about how these patriots are earning their stripes (and gold stars) in business.


Veterans (Infographic)



These Programs Are Helping Veterans to Get New Businesses Off the Ground

These Programs Are Helping Veterans to Get New Businesses Off the Ground

Today’s generation of veterans enter a different business world than their predecessors. Luckily, there’s help.
These Programs Are Helping Veterans to Get New Businesses Off the Ground

Image credit: Pieter Henket

Air Force major Angela Cody-Rouget was once responsible for America’s nuclear arsenal. She was a missile launch officer, stationed inside an underground control center. The job required a mastery of endless systems and protocols, and she felt she’d gotten a lesson in “organized chaos.” So when it was time for her to transition into civilian life about a decade ago, she decided to play to her strengths: She’d build a business around being organized.

“When I got out of the military,” she says, “I just walked away.” She had her eye on private industry and figured the government would be of no help. In 2006, she launched a company called Major Mom. It began as a fleet of professional organizers across Colorado and Arizona, who go into homes and “liberate” them from their mess. As her company grew, she wanted guidance on how to expand it into a national franchise — and that’s when she discovered that her initial assumption was wrong. The government, in fact, was trying to help its veterans set up businesses. And so were many other organizations.

In the past decade, a wide-ranging network of services has developed to assist people exactly like Cody-Rouget — educating, funding and mentoring vets turned entrepreneurs to help them succeed in businesses, and franchising in particular. The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) has a robust program; its two-day Boots to Business basics course is offered on military bases and has been attended by 20,000 troops transitioning out since 2013. Overall, there are now more than 14,000 organizations, universities, private philanthropies and nonprofits helping veteran entrepreneurs in the United States.

The momentum can be felt even in typically slow-moving corners of government: In 1999, Congress passed the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act and rolled out 13 regional Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the U.S. These spaces offer training as well as connections to mentors and financing. In the coming year, six more centers are expected to open — a 46 percent increase.

“I didn’t know the SBA and other groups had veterans programs,” says Cody-Rouget. But once she discovered them, she quickly enrolled in multiple classes and began growing Major Mom into something even bigger.

As a group, veterans have long been known for their entrepreneurialism. There’s good reason: Vets are disciplined problem solvers and have learned to thrive within rigid systems. According to one study, 49.7 percent of World War II veterans started their own small businesses, 40 percent of Korean War veterans became entrepreneurs and 33 percent of Vietnam vets have owned or operated a business. But until recently, veterans had to use civilian business resources.

Today’s generation of vets is entering a different world. Misty Stutsman, director of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, says the current abundance of vet-specific resources has created a golden age for what the industry calls “vetrepreneurs.” (Yes, for real.) There was no one trigger for this but, rather, a confluence of cultural events: We’re living in a startup-friendly culture and seeing a surge in outreach programs focused on post-9/11 veterans. “These two worlds have collided, and you see more and more support structures popping up,” says Stutsman.

Approximately 200,000 people now rotate out of the U.S. military every year — which translates to a lot of qualified job seekers. Many decide to create their own jobs. The SBA says about one in 10 small businesses today in the U.S. is launched by a veteran.

Mike Francomb, senior VP of development at RecruitMilitary, connects vets with franchise brands.

Mike Francomb, senior VP of development at RecruitMilitary, connects vets with franchise brands.
Photograph by Mike Buckman

A lot of vets enter franchising. The franchise world has embraced vets’ “intangible attributes that help in business,” says Mike Francomb, a West Point graduate who served as a field artillery officer in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. He’s now senior VP of development for RecruitMilitary, a company that connects vets with franchise brands and job opportunities. Another helpful organization is VetFran, an initiative of the International Franchising Association, which offers reductions in fees and discounts on equipment, and even helps secure financing at more than 650 franchises. (Opportunities vary by individual franchise but can be valuable. Among them: Little Caesars pizza waives its $20,000 franchise fee for disabled vets and offers a $10,000 equipment credit, and JDog Junk Removal hires only veteran franchisees.)

Many programs also focus on education, providing the necessary skills to run a business while helping vets navigate the gray areas of the business world after living in a black-and-white military system.

“We work with them on pivoting. We teach them to know when they are failing, to fail fast and then to make a pivot,” says Alexces Bartley, outreach program manager for the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State. Its 12-month boot camp, which includes an online component and weeklong residency, helps vets in matters big and small — from developing business concepts to feeling at ease with civilian chitchat. “They need to be self-aware enough to know what isn’t working and what the next option is.”

Often, vets in these programs discover lessons they didn’t even realize they had to learn. “I thought I’d just jump into business,” says Jeff Gural, a former Marine, longtime member of the National Guard and police officer. He finally left the military this year, three years after he’d started his path to entrepreneurship. He began by enrolling in a three-month Veterans Launching Ventures course at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck, N.J. “It taught me that a business plan is the crux of an entire business. It helped decide what kind of company I wanted to start and exactly what I needed to do.” With that information in hand, he bought a Signal 88 Security franchise in Camden, N.J., which provides security personnel for events, private companies and facilities. It’s a business that suits his blend of his military and police experience and newly acquired business skills.

With so many resources available, veterans are faced with a new dilemma: Which program to choose?

“There are so many high-quality, free small-business training resources available to service members, veterans and their families,” says Meghan Conroy Florkowski, a former Army engineer and director of entrepreneurship programs at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families program at Syracuse. The key is finding them, which is why her colleague Stutsman is currently compiling every program into one resource, so veterans can find the ones that are right for them.

Cody-Rouget, of Major Mom, enrolled in several programs — all of them free. She won a business-plan competition sponsored by the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps, an initiative started by Nell Merlino, the founder of Take Your Daughter to Work Day. She took Vet to CEO’s online course, which helps design or refine business plans, and SBA’s eight-month classroom-based leadership course.

“All the programs I’ve done offer these nuggets of wisdom that I didn’t know before going through them,” Cody-Rouget says. But she credits V-Wise (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, at Syracuse) with being the most influential of them all. It offered an online course on the basics of entrepreneurship, along with a conference full of training modules and presentations by female CEOs. The experience stuck with her; she and her fellow participants stay in touch, giving each other advice as they build their businesses. “I didn’t know I needed it till I had it,” she says. “V-Wise was the first place someone told me I had a billion-dollar idea. No one had ever said anything like that to me.”

As a result of all this assistance, Cody-Rouget began franchising last year, and this year she gave Major Mom a major rebrand, becoming Major Organizers. Her first franchise owner is (of course) a fellow veteran in Ohio. Now she hopes to expand across the country. “I think I’ve gotten my payback,” she says. “I’m glad I served my country.”