Keith Orr served as a noncommissioned officer (NCO) for most of his 24 years of active duty service in the U.S. Army, rising through the ranks to sergeant first class.
NCOs are the military’s hands-on troop supervisors and task handlers. Orr performed those chores while serving in multiple positions through more than two decades, including combat deployments stretching from the brief 1991 Gulf War and Kosovo to a couple of harrowing years in Iraq.
As he served in these positions, he was also unknowingly learning the principles that would be key to his career after he left the military.
“The military taught me the value of hard work, how to follow systems and the best ways to react to changing circumstances on the fly,” Orr said. “All of these skills would become essential in preparing me well for the rigors of my transition to civilian life.”
During his final year in uniform, Orr was already thinking hard about his post military career. “I didn’t want to be a cop or a prison guard. I had to put the gun away,” he said. “I needed to move away from that lifestyle. I didn’t want to deploy anymore.”
Shortly after retiring from the military in early 2013, Orr moved his family back home to Northern Delaware and decided that entrepreneurship was the right path for him. He immediately turned his attention to finding a franchise that would allow him to utilize the leadership, critical thinking and team work skills he developed throughout his time in the Army. He also wanted to find a franchise
that would make possible the lifestyle that he wanted for himself and his family.
At a job fair, he was approached by a franchise coach from the Entrepreneur’s Source, who suggested Handyman Matters, a Denver-based home improvement and home repair services franchise with nearly 150 locations across the country.
Orr opened his Handyman Matters franchise in September 2013, having spent about $75,000 on the franchise purchase and start-up costs. About $25,000 was from his own resources and the remaining $50,000 was from a SBA-backed Patriot Express loan.
“We do small repair work for residential and some commercial … We try to bring a sense of trust with the construction and handyman industry. There are so many people working out of the back of their truck, who do shoddy work, take your money and leave,” Orr explained. “We provide consistent, on-time service and offer a one-year warranty.”
In about 18 months, Orr’s business has grown to six employees, five of them handymen who can go to a home and fix “anything that doesn’t require a license,” as he puts it. As the business continues to expand, Orr plans to hire other veterans like himself.
For more information about Handyman Matters, please visit