As I reflect on my time in the military, I’m overcome with a sense of pride. Making the ultimate commitment to serve in the armed forces was no small decision, but one that has had an incredible impact on my life. As veterans, we recognize the importance of our responsibilities and have carried the weight of our duty with honor, which has united and cultivated a special bond between us that others might not understand. The military taught us the true meaning of integrity and persistence, traits that have aided in my personal growth and shaped my future in countless ways.
I joined the U.S. Air Force in 1987, working with the avionics team to enhance the electronic systems on the military’s aircrafts. After seven years, I transitioned into the HVAC sector and worked in that field for the remainder of my term. It was during this time that I realized I had a strong passion for the profession and started my own contracting company. Trading in my title of Technical Sergeant for small business owner was a nerve-wracking change, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to utilize the skills I learned in the military to better the future for myself and more importantly, my family. However, as time passed, I was struggling to make that business a success. As an individual contractor, finding ways to recruit and retain top talent while improving customer relations and strengthening service methods was a major challenge. Not ready to give up, I decided to look into franchising and was introduced to One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.
I opened my first location with the brand in 2005 and was instantly impressed with the franchise model, so much so that I grew my business portfolio by franchising with One Hour’s sister companies, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky. These franchises have proven solutions and resources that pave the way for franchisees to be successful and as I quickly learned, the companies are whole heartedly invested in my continued achievements. In addition to the endless support and guidance provided by the franchisor, the contractors across all of the brands prioritize team growth. Regardless of how many years an owner has been a part of the system, the brands’ network of contractors are always willing to share advice and lessons learned, which has fueled my growth immensely. I am proud to be a multi-unit franchisee and part of the small business community in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as Niceville, Orlando and Pensacola, Florida. It’s a close network that’s reminiscent of my time in the Air Force and it’s been fulfilling to learn and grow with other entrepreneurs who are just as eager to make an impact in their community.
When it comes to recruiting talent for my businesses, I often come across employee candidates with military experience and usually find myself inclined to schedule an interview straightaway. The skills we acquired during our time in the military are perfectly suited for the structure and stability that franchises provide. Veterans excel in environments that promote teamwork and collaboration, as we are used to working with large teams to accomplish a common goal. That’s exactly the type of structure needed to succeed in franchising and the trade industries specifically, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution for homeowners. Each service call presents a problem unique to the individual in need of help, so veterans’ ability to quickly identify problems and brainstorm innovative solutions is a valued skill.
I recommend franchising to any veteran that is looking for a new career path. Do your research, find a franchise that fits your passion and utilize the skills and expertise you learned during your time in the military to make that new business endeavor a success. Being your own boss is an empowering and rewarding journey and growth is truly limitless. Across all of my businesses, I have more than 150 trucks and 165 employees and that’s due in part to the strength of the franchise model and the work ethic of my teams. If you asked me 15 years ago what life would look like post-military, I would have never dreamed it would look like this. I’m forever proud to be a veteran and forever thankful for the lessons I learned that opened so many doors for my future.
Lenny Siers is a former Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and currently a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Mister Sparky and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning Multi-Unit Franchisee.