Veterans Win With Sport Clips Haircuts Franchise as Post-military Investment

Larry Strong, Charlie Jones, Engy Cox and Ed Passarelli all have fulfilling careers that include military service.

Larry was an accountant and controller for several businesses and served two decades in the Army National Guard, retiring after 21 years as a Captain in the Corps of Engineers. Charlie was an aircraft technician in the Marine Corps; later becoming a veterinarian and serving in that role for 14 years in the Army; after which he established a private practice. Engy was a high school math teacher before deploying as an Army Reservist to Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom and now works for the Department of Defense. And, Ed is a tax preparer.

When Larry was laid off from his job at 59-years-old, he began searching for his next challenge. After talking with his son-in-law, Scott Harbour, they decided, along with Larry’s daughter Kathryn, that Sport Clips would be a good business to bring to the Huntsville, Alabama area. Scott and his son had seen a Sport Clips and liked the concept. And, Scott particularly like the idea of a manager overseeing the daily operations of the business. Larry says he’s best at accounting and maintenance, and Scott has expertise in marketing and operations. So the family made the investment in their first store five years ago and will soon have four locations in the greater Huntsville area. What he likes best about the business is the opportunity to meet and interact with “all kinds of different people in the stores.”

Charlie agrees with Larry, saying that interacting every day with people is the reason he enjoys anything he does. Before he sold his veterinary practice, he was looking for a business investment. Charlie first looked into food service franchises. He later heard a Sport Clips radio commercial while driving about “owning a franchise,” and called his wife, Linda, and asked her to look into it. He even talked with his two sons and son-in-law about the concept, and all three were Sport Clips clients living in different cities.

Time passed, and a year later he sold his practice. While he was outside working, moving hay from his barn, he says he literally heard “Sport Clips” from above. He called the Sport Clips franchising team that morning to see if opening a store near his home in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was an option. The response was that the franchise had been looking to locate a store in that area for more than a year-and-a-half.

It’s now been three years since Charlie and Linda opened their first Sport Clips. They have a second store open with a third lease in the works. He says from his days in the military, he likes teamwork, having systems in place and being part of an efficient operation such as Sport Clips. For Charlie, it’s a way to “reap the benefits of what others have done and provides the opportunity to build upon that success.”

Engy says she comes from an entrepreneurial family and knew she’d always be a business owner. She and her husband, Terry, researched franchise opportunities and says Sport Clips, for them, was “above all the others,” primarily because of its strong support of the military and veterans. The franchise was founded by CEO Gordon Logan, who served in the Air Force. It has numerous philanthropic efforts, with its signature being “Help A Hero” that supports VFW-administered scholarships for U.S. service members and veterans taking the next step in their civilian careers. Like the military, Engy says a franchise is structured, and the recommended business model is tested and true. In both settings, she says it’s important to follow the rules and lead by example. Engy and Terry have two stores in California, and they are working on a third. She says even though they are busy with a young daughter, they plan to have five stores in six years.

Ed served in the Air Force and was a technician in the Rhode Island National Guard. He says in the military, it’s important to seek out other people who have more experience. That is what has helped him as a franchisee, seeking out those within the system who have been successful and getting advice from his teammates. He came to be a part of the Sport Clips team after his wife, Maria, managed stores for another hair care brand. She saw how well Sport Clips locations were doing when they moved into a market, told him about the franchise, and he says it sounded like a place he’d want to get a haircut. His first location opened two-and-a-half years ago, with a second now open.

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