How I Went from the Air Force to a Small Business Owner

After working as an Air Force hydraulic technician primarily in Oklahoma and Okinawa Japan for 11 years, I wanted my next job to be one that would truly challenge me.

A few months after leaving the Air Force in 2001, while exploring a career in computers, I found a job posting on the talent bank for a mobile sales and service technician (MSST) at a local PIRTEK
franchise. I was soon hired as a MSST and then quickly promoted to operations manager within a year and then general manager in 2017. Little did I know that my relationship with PIRTEK USA would continue for nearly two decades and result in opening my own business. I was drawn to this franchise because I enjoy the freedom to bounce around at work, visit different sites and work on many different types of machinery. The reason why I’ve stuck with the company so long in different roles is because I like the variety of jobs and you’re not stuck in a plant doing the same thing repeatedly. I love that we are in the field and building relationships with customers and that’s the key to success in this business. You get customers to trust you and then you work on their machines and that’s how you grow within the brand.

In 2014 and 2015, I was awarded the National Operations Manager of the Year by PIRTEK USA. I found that my career in the military really helped me succeed with PIRTEK USA. Life in the Air Force instils you with lifelong strengths such as a strong work ethic, professionalism, teamwork and attention to detail.

After many years of career success and satisfaction at a PIRTEK USA franchise location in Detroit, I was at a crossroads when my wife had an opportunity to take the next step in her career by moving to Columbus, OH I ultimately decided to become an owner because PIRTEK USA had recently started offering franchisees the option of opening two types of  locations – Tier 1 and Tier 2. Opening a Tier 2 mobile-only location felt like a much more viable and affordable path to business ownership.

One of the challenges of opening the first PIRTEK location in Columbus is making sure to educate the business community about the brand and what we can do for their companies. I also approach new customers by really listening to them with an eye on how they can prevent future problems. I know that downtime is costly, which is why PIRTEK offers a variety of services to eliminate customers’ downtime. One of our stand-out offerings, is our 1-hour ETA on-site campaign. It seems basic, but it’s very important and in my short time in business, customers have already been impressed with this very simple service. As already stated, another simple thing is to just listen. Listening will afford you the opportunity to solve their problems and not just supply another bandaid fix.

I currently have one employee and myself building the PIRTEK brand in the Columbus area. I feel that it is very important as an owner to be out in the field daily building relationships with customers and even doing jobs. Since opening my PIRTEK USA business, I’ve been happy with the amount of support I’ve received not only from the PIRTEK USA corporate team, but also from other franchise owners. I consider myself lucky that I can pick up the phone and call any fellow PIRTEK franchise owner for any advice. Sometimes multiple franchise owners service a common customer. As a PIRTEK brand we work together to ensure we manage these customers in the same way to keep things consistent for the customer and ultimately strengthening our brand.

My advice to those who want to open their own PIRTEK franchise is that this is a great, recession-proof business to invest in, but you have to be able to take things apart and put it back together or have a staff that does that for you. You don’t need to have a background in hydraulics, but you need people that have a good understanding of it. I believe that following the system and using your resources is the key to being a successful franchise owner.

Recently, COVID has proven that this business is recession-proof and pandemicproof because it services many essential businesses in construction, manufacturing, industrial, agricultural, defence, oil and petroleum industries. In the future, I’m hoping to open up one more location in Columbus and then possibly a third location in Ohio. “To Fly, Fight and Win” is the motto those who serve in the United States Air Force live by during their time in battle – and it’s something I’ve used to transform myself from a PIRTEK USA entry-level technician to a franchise owner.

www.pirtekusa.com