Thomas Edison once said, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning –” a mantra I’ve leaned into on many occasions during my career. Having been an active duty member of the United States Air Force for the majority of my adult life, I’ve always known that planning ahead is imperative to success.
As a family man and owner of two shaved-ice trucks, I feel prepared to enter my post-military career path. But my confidence wasn’t built overnight – it took research, planning and finding the right fit to make it happen.
SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
In 2013, I came to terms with the fact that my time with the military would eventually come to a close. It’s always been a fear of mine to feel lost and misguided once I retire, and to combat this, I began researching businesses I could get involved in years before my anticipated retirement.
As a father to three young boys, I was determined to secure a post-military career that would both accommodate the skill set I had collected during my years in the Air Force as well as support my family. My mission focused and highly motivated attitude led me straight to franchise concepts, as franchising is often an excellent fit for active military personnel and veterans who are searching for their next career path. After three years of thorough research, I concluded that the family-friendly philanthropic food truck franchise Kona Ice would be the perfect fit for my life after the military – and during it.
In May of 2016, I opened my first Kona Ice Truck in Buffalo, New York, where my family is originally from. Since I am stationed in Alabama, I manage Kona Ice of South Buffalo remotely with the help of my friends and family who are in New York. Although my family and I would like to move back to New York after my retirement, the rapid success of the Buffalo truck inspired me to open my second truck – Kona Ice of Northeast Montgomery – in Alabama in December 2016.
This summer, I will be retiring after 20 years in the military. Closing this chapter of my life is daunting, but already having three years of successful business ownership under my belt has made me excited for the next phase of my life – a feat I would not have accomplished without the proper planning all those years ago.
Similar to the military, an established franchisor like Kona Ice has proven processes in place in order to lead their team to success. This appreciation for following procedures and approaching tasks systematically is a main reason why veterans are able to smoothly transition from their military background into franchising.
For me, a family-friendly concept with proven systems like Kona Ice is the perfect fit. The trucks are a staple within each community the brand serves, attracting fans with the familiar sound of Calypso music and the colorful design of the truck. What’s more, Kona Ice allows me to give back to my community through philanthropy – an aspect of the franchise that I was immediately drawn to. Through neighborhood events, I am able to donate a portion of my profits to local schools, sports team, community organizations and nonprofits. As a soon-to-be veteran, the thought of bringing smiles to my neighborhood one cup of shaved ice at a time makes me feel like I am still impacting my country in a positive way.
However, Kona Ice also provides a refreshing change from the intensity of the military because of its simple business model. As a franchisee, I have the flexibility to choose which hours I work and the events I attend, allowing me to have more time to spend with my family. Even while working, I get the opportunity to engage with community members of all ages and bring joy to my neighborhood with every turn my truck makes. After the military, it is comforting to work with a fun, lighthearted concept like Kona Ice.
As I approach retirement, I am grateful for the core values and strong work ethic that being a part of the Air Force has instilled in me. My experiences have taught me to not be afraid for the future, but to welcome it with open arms. My sons have always been eager to tell their friends that their father serves in the Air Force, and it’s great to see their enthusiasm. However, it’s encouraging to see that they’re twice as thrilled to tell their friends that their dad drives around town in a Calypso-themed shaved ice truck.
About Taher Taher
Taher Taher is an active duty member of the United States Air Force and the owner of Kona Ice of South Buffalo and Kona Ice of Northeast Montgomery. He currently resides in Montgomery with his wife and three sons.