Subway: A Great Opportunity for Veteran Entrepreneurs

For Subway® Franchisee and local Development Agent Debora Carpenter, of Grand Island, Neb., joining the military was pretty much a family affair.

“I grew up knowing the Army life,” said Carpenter, whose father, David George Bodenbender, made a career serving in the U.S. Army while her brother, David K. N. Bodenbender, currently serves as a Major in the U.S. Army and is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1988, looking to make money to pay for a college education, Carpenter joined the U.S. Army Reserves and was assigned to the 217th Transportation Company at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas.

“During my service I loved what I did and learned,” said Carpenter, who served eight years in the Reserves, including a year called to Active Duty in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. “I could not wait to spend the weekends or my two weeks with my Military family. There was something about it that truly energized me.”

When not in the Reserves, Carpenter worked at a local Subway restaurant as a Sandwich Artist™ and for the local Development Agent team. But eventually this became a family affair as well as she convinced her father, upon his retirement, to purchase a Subway restaurant.  The whole family was involved in the restaurant’s operations: mom Karen, sister Diane and brothers David and Derek.

Now Debora and her husband Todd own 27 shops as Franchisees and oversee almost 200 locations as Development Agents.

Chief Marketing Officer Don Fertman said Veterans make great Franchisees.

“The dedication and work ethic of a Veteran is unmatched,” Fertman said. “We are proud of the Veterans in the Subway family, which includes Franchisees and Development Agents as well as restaurant and Headquarters’ staff.”

The Subway restaurant chain has a program for military veterans that reduces the cost of purchasing a Subway franchise by 50 present for any honorably discharged veteran opening a Subway restaurant.

Fertman said the Subway brand is also in the midst of exciting global brand transformation that includes a new restaurant design, refining operations, introducing new and improved products, creating an even greater customer experience, and ensuring Franchisees have the greatest opportunities to successfully grow their businesses.

Subway Franchisee Laura Flint, from Middlebury, Vt., also came from a family with a tradition of serving in the military.

“I come from a long line of soldiers, sailors and pilots and am thankful I was able to serve my country as well,” said Flint, who served in the Vermont National Guard and was called to Active Duty for a year-long deployment to Camp Victory in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Flint now owns two Subway restaurants.

“It was a long, hot exhausting year,” Flint said of her deployment. “Who knew you could survive wearing full plate armor in 140-degree weather? I was fortunate to be sent with a group of hard working patriotic Vermonters who took their jobs seriously, and watched out for one another.”

“Subway wasn’t on my radar as a career choice,” Flint said. “I was the accountant for a local Subway owner and I already owned the UPS store next door. The owner fell on hard times, so I bought him out in 2012 rather than let the business shut down. I am extremely pleased with how things have turned out. I ended up buying a second Subway in 2014.”

John Dell, a Franchisee and Development Agent from Louisville, Tenn., maintains that his military service was able to best prepare him for his careers in business.

Dell has been with Subway for 11 years, following his time in the U.S. Army, where he served in such roles as Quartermaster, Combat Engineers and Special Forces from 1979 to 2003. As a civilian, Dell had careers in sales and marketing for corporations such as the Coca-Cola Company and the Eastman Kodak Company. He oversees 505 Subway restaurants as a Development Agent and, as a Franchisee, co-owns 102 restaurants in Tennessee and Kentucky, providing more than 1,000 local jobs. John piloted the first newly designed Subway Fresh Forward restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn.

“I have found my military experience and rapid success at Subway to be connected,” Dell said. “In a business system like this, a Franchisee’s success is very dependent on his or her ability to listen to employees, customers and the franchisor, while at the same time exercising their leaderships skills every day while making their business successful. My time in the service taught me to build problem solving into everything I do and to always think in terms of actions and consequences. Inevitably, a person’s success as a Franchisee is shaped by the strengths of the brand and their ability to deliver great customer service, a superior product and do this in a comfortable environment. Subway provide the opportunity to do this.”

For any Fellow-Veterans looking to join the business world, Dell would suggest that they conduct a very objective and through self-assessment of their strengths, weaknesses and the type of work they really find rewarding and could be successful at.

After venturing into a business that was not successful, Dell saw “an ideal fit” with Subway.

“A system worked, where I could still direct and determine my success and where I was working for myself and benefiting from my efforts,” Dell said. “Today I often tell people that I’m ‘retired.’ I say this because I get up every day, enjoy what I do and ultimately can decide how I want to live my life. Subway has been a great fit for me.”

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