Meet This U.S. Air Force Veteran and Pinch a Penny Owner

A veteran silhouetted on top of an American flag - veteran franchise business ownership

Since its founding in 1975, Pinch A Penny Pool Patio Spa has maintained an unwavering commitment to U.S. military veterans and their families. Each year, the brand allocates a portion of its charitable giving to support veteran-focused organizations, such as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Birdies for the Brave. Why is this? Because as a family-founded company that is still family-run today, Pinch A Penny proudly shares many of the same values that servicemen and -women come to live by, such as loyalty, integrity and having a servant leadership attitude when it comes to their community.

For these same reasons, U.S. military veterans make exceptional Pinch A Penny franchisees. To support veterans on their path to franchise ownership, Pinch A Penny offers a 50% discount off its initial franchise fee for qualified veteran candidates and up to 80% financing for all qualified prospects through its in-house program, designed to make the transition easier – whatever that transition may be.

For U.S. Air Force veteran Ted Karst, who retired as chief master sergeant with the 125th Fighter Wing after 36 years of service, these unique attributes are what solidified Pinch A Penny as the franchise opportunity for him and his family. As a new franchisee taking the leap into business ownership for the first time, Karst appreciated the generous discount, financing options and unparalleled support that Pinch A Penny provided him in his transition. Learn more about Ted and his journey from veteran to Pinch A Penny franchisee below.

Tell us about your career in the U.S. Air Force.

I first entered the military service in November 1983 at the age of 21 and was assigned to the 125th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, eventually becoming the propulsion flight chief in 2004. I held several positions throughout my 36-year career and served on over 50 overseas deployments to locations such as Bulgaria, Netherlands, Romania, Thailand, Iceland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and the Panama Canal, among others.

I retired as chief master sergeant of the 125th Fighter Wing in August 2019.

How did you learn about Pinch A Penny?

When I had my own pool built at my home. I put in a pool for my wife, Lori, who has back problems, and the water’s buoyancy helps to ease some of her pain. I got a pebble Marcite finish on the pool, and the contractor told me it had a lifetime warranty as long as I went to Pinch A Penny and had the water sampled once a month.

I live in a rural town in Southeast Georgia, and the closest Pinch A Penny store was about 50 miles away in Northside Jacksonville, Florida. While I was working at the Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, it was easy for me to drop the water testing bottle off on my way into work and then pick it up on the way home, and the 100-mile roundtrip didn’t seem so bad. After I retired, that became a real pain.

What led you to become a franchise owner?

A friend of mine, Steve Taylor, is the owner and operator of the Pinch A Penny in Northside Jacksonville, where I would go to get my monthly water test done. After I retired and was no longer working on base, I was driving the 100 miles just to get my water tested and the supplies I needed to maintain my pool. One day he half-jokingly suggested it would be easier for me to just open my own store, so I decided to explore the opportunity. I didn’t intend to keep working after retiring from the Air Force, but I was intrigued by the franchise model and the possibility of building a legacy for my son, Jacob, and daughter-in-law, Haley.

After attending a discovery day at Pinch A Penny’s headquarters, I knew I was in the right place with the right people, and there was no looking back.

How is franchising positively impacting you and your family?

Prior to exploring the opportunity with Pinch A Penny, I didn’t have much knowledge about the franchise business model. After going through the process myself, I quickly discovered how impactful it can be for aspiring business owners and their families. It can quite literally allow you to take control of your financial future and change your family’s future forever.

Simply put, franchising with Pinch A Penny is allowing me to build a legacy business for my son and his wife, and I know I’m setting them up for long-term and sustainable success because of the company’s proven track record. We opened our store in Brunswick, Georgia, in February 2021 and are incredibly proud to be a veteran- and family-owned business. We’ve even put a sign on the front window that says exactly that, because we want the community to know that a veteran opened this store and he’s still willing to serve the community.

Would you recommend franchising to other veterans? If so, why?

Absolutely. I’ve learned that the franchise model provides a step-by-step proven system, which in my opinion is extremely close to the military way of life. In the process of becoming a franchisee, you have a band of people around you – from development to operations to marketing – all working together in harmony to accomplish a common goal: ensuring you’re prepared to successfully operate your own business. Having the level of guidance and support I received from Pinch A Penny while on this new path was invaluable to me and I know I couldn’t have gotten it anywhere else.

What is your advice to veterans who might be interested in becoming a Pinch A Penny franchisee or interested in franchising in general?

There are a couple of things that come to mind. One, if you’re exploring different franchise opportunities, look at companies that have the same values you do. Loyalty, respect, integrity and selfless service are values that all of us who have served come to learn and live by, so I knew I wanted to be part of a system that shared those values. Also, a family-centered business was a priority for me, because they’re usually based on good values and I was looking to build a family business of my own.

Two, see that the franchise you’re considering isn’t just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. What I mean by that is, does the franchise you’re looking to invest in actually support and empower the veteran community? For example, Pinch A Penny offers 50% off its initial franchise fee for veterans and they gave me a loan to cover 80% of the startup costs without any SBA fees, which put me in a position to transition into this new venture with more ease and peace of mind.

Anything else you’d like to add?

As veterans, we basically lay everything out. We’re willing to die for what we believe in, and because of that, when we come back and there are companies like Pinch A Penny that are strong enough to say, “Hey, I know what you did, and I appreciate what you did,” it matters.

To learn more about franchise opportunities with Pinch A Penny Pool Patio Spa, visit

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