Air force veteran Mark Kelly, 50, knew he wanted to become a small business owner after retiring from the service after 25 years, but he faced an uphill battle when it came to establishing a career post service.
While the country as a whole is struggling with a stubbornly-high unemployment rate, veterans face an unemployment rate of nearly 13% upon returning from war, according to the Labor Department.
Kelly was given the unique opportunity to become his own boss as a franchise owner of TeamLogic IT, in Colorado Springs, Colo. this year. TeamLogic IT is a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based computer services company, that has more than 50 franchises across the country, and will waive its $40,000 franchising fee this year for 10 qualifying veterans across the country to open up their own TeamLogic IT franchise.
To be considered, veterans should visit the “Franchise Opportunities” section of www.teamlogicit.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Victoria Brox at 866-TeamLogicIT and identify themselves as a U.S. military veteran.
Kelly is the company's first veteran to be selected, and plans to open up his own TeamLogic IT business in Colorado Springs, with his wife, Dawn Kelly, who is also an air force vet.
"I like the idea and what the company is doing to help veterans to get into small business," Mark said.
Chuck Lennon, president of TeamLogic IT, said the offering evolved naturally, and was really spur of the moment. He found out through the International Franchise Association just how high the unemployment rate was for veterans and wanted to help lower the rate.
"I was blown away by the rate for returning vets," Lennon said. "Our franchises don't hire a lot of people, but I currently have a handful of veteran franchisees that are very strong."
The selected veterans will receive the same training as paying franchisees, and will travel to Southern California for a week of training with TeamLogic professionals to learn how to operate, develop and grow their business, Lennon said. They also get free marketing for three months, and daily phone conversations and support once the franchise is up and running. The offer will stand through the rest of the year, and TeamLogic began reviewing applications earlier this month.
"We wanted to someway be able to thank vets for the work they've done," he said. "Especially for an officer who has perhaps spent 20-plus years in the military."
Kelly works with veteran organizations LifeQuest Transitions and Veterans of Foreign Wars and plans to work his connections to help other unemployed vets find work within his company. He said he also plans on offering LifeQuest Transitions free IT services once his franchise is up and running.
"It's paying it forward, the same way TeamLogic is paying it forward and helping us out with this opportunity," he said. "We want to help other vets as our company grows."