Barry Hintz left the United State Army in 1992, but the experience of serving his country never left him. He thinks that is probably why he has been able to enjoy a successful business career and has thrived as a franchise owner.
Hintz owns an AdvantaClean of Suburban Milwaukee, a national indoor air quality and mold remediation company. But it was Hintz’s time spent in the military that laid the foundation that he would use to build his business career.
Serving his country
Hintz went to ROTC during college and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in economics in 1988. After that, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was a regular transportation corps officer from 1988 to 1992. Hintz was in charge of loading and unloading cargo and ammunition from ships, trains, aircraft and trucks. He traveled all over the world, serving in Ft. Eustis, Virginia, New Zealand and Central America, and performed in conditions ranging from a wind chill of 88 degrees below zero in Antarctica to 135 degrees in Saudi Arabia.
He also served during the Gulf War. In fact, Hintz had the unfortunate experience of standing on a pier in the Persian Gulf while under a scud missile attack – missiles that dropped 2,000-pound bombs — thinking he may die at any moment.
“It was pretty intense,” he said. “It forced me to grow up quickly.”
But Hintz said that in that moment, he wasn’t scared. Maybe he couldn’t be. There was nowhere to run. He told himself, “It’s a real cool Fourth of July show. I just happen to be standing underneath it.” At some point, he saw a red glare and an American flag waving nearby and thought, “How cool was that?”
Once the war was over, there was still plenty to do.
“It was a lot of hard work to load and unload the ships,” said Hintz. “After the war was over, it turned into a grind to motivate others to get everything done.”
He traveled into Iraq after the war was over to load military equipment, but everything was destroyed. Of his time in the army, Hintz said, “I was in it to serve my country, and I loved it.”
The transition from military into business
After Hintz left his tour of duty, he entered the world of business and found it to his liking. He went to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and earned an MBA. From there, he spent the next two decades working in several executive sales positions at various companies, mostly in healthcare.
When he decided to go into business for himself and purchase a franchise, Hintz couldn’t help but be struck by the similarities with serving in the military. In the army, he said everything is “easy” because it’s all written down.
“Even if you get promoted to the next level, you are not even close to being the first person who has ever done it. You learn as you grow into things,” he said.
It works the same way with a franchise. “If you follow the system, it should generally work,” said Hintz. “You don’t need to figure everything out for yourself. That makes it easier than if you started a company on your own. AdvantaClean has a system and if you start with that system, it is going to work, but you have to be smart enough to adapt it to your market.”
Meanwhile, his military experience has also given him the right mindset to succeed as a franchisee. “In the army, I learned that individuals are responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen,” said Hintz. “It isn’t very different as a business owner. You need to be aware of every detail that goes on with your business and be able to juggle all the balls at once.”
Ultimately, Hintz said, “I can take care of some responsibilities myself and delegate others, but I’m still responsible for everything.”
He is able to delegate a lot. His crew leaders and salesperson are very knowledgeable. A lot of that was due to proper staff training. He and his team have also established a clear definition of where they are in the marketplace, what are they going to do and how are they going to do it. Hintz feels that his job is to keep everybody focused on that.
Meanwhile, the military has remained with Hintz in other ways. He has hired veterans over the years and among his clients are the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and Dry Hootch, a retail coffee house and veteran support organization.
“I love walking around and serving my guys,” said Hintz. “Everyone who was in the military is one of my guys. We’re all brothers.”
By hanging onto what he learned in the army, Hintz has been able to achieve his company’s mission – bringing in plenty of work and keeping customers and employees happy.
“I’m not interested in the check that we get for the work we do,” said Hintz. “I’m interested in making sure that the person we do work for becomes a raving fan of my company.”