The Second Time Around
Former corporate managers find success in franchise business
At the age of 50, California Businessman Jeff Gilly found himself out of work with a great resume that couldn't get him a second interview at jobs he was over-qualified for. Meanwhile, the Florida coast lured 57-year-old professional Bob Glaze into an early retirement after a successful corporate career. Three weeks later, he was bored.
Gilly and Glaze represent a growing group of Americans who have started over and are thriving in their own franchise businesses after corporate layoffs and early retirements left them wanting more. It's a trend that's expected to continue, as healthy, well-educated Baby Boomers push the traditional career-path envelope to make employment history.
In a speech to the National Press Club late last year, AARP Executive Director and CEO William Novelli said that even though our workforce is aging, "many employers are still reluctant to hire after 40, train after 50, and retain after 60." Those attitudes are spawning a group of successful entrepreneurs who are taking destiny into their own hands.
This changing demographic has impacted companies like National Property Inspections, Inc., a home inspection franchise company based in Omaha, Neb. Founded in 1987, the company has grown to more than 200 franchise owners across the U.S. and Canada, many who have transitioned from corporate careers. And they're not all over 50 or even 40, for that matter.
"For a variety of reasons, we're seeing more franchisees of all ages leave corporate America for the opportunity to own a business," said NPI Executive VP Bill Erickson. "These franchise owners bring a wealth of experience and discipline to making their businesses a success."
Gilly and Glaze, who are among the company's top franchise owners, are examples of former corporate managers and executives who've succeeded quickly in businesses of their own. Gilly, who held management jobs in health care and technology companies including Exxon, had gone through a job elimination in 1998 at age 50.
"I was pretty frustrated because I had worked so hard to come up with nothing at the end of the road. At 50, I was interviewing for jobs I was over-qualified for and not getting a second interview. So, instead of letting things happen to me, I decided to make things happen for me," he said.
"I knew I wanted to start a business and that I didn't want to do it alone. I also didn't want brick and mortar - a 24-7 business with employees. I did want a good income that would take me gracefully into my retirement years and a business that I could someday sell." Gilly chose NPI, partly because he liked the company's Midwestern, honest business ethic.
He jumped right into his new career in the Sacramento area, where competition is stiff. He found himself with several advantages over the rest, though. The company's proven formula, state-of-the-art products and respected national franchise name helped set him apart from the others. Gilly said he likes the control and accountability that his business affords him. "I sometimes work 13 hours a day, but it's because I want to."
Bob Glaze, on the other hand, wasn't looking for work. He thought he'd found the ideal lifestyle when he left corporate America to retire in his favorite vacation spot in the panhandle of Florida between Pensacola and Panama, where he dreamed he'd spend his days golfing, playing tennis, scuba diving, biking and kayaking.
"Retirement was just not for me. I couldn't stand it. I sat around for three weeks, and that's only because it was Christmas!" said Glaze, who most recently had headed up the metal manufacturing division as vice president of operations for Owens Corning. "I liked the benefits, the prestige and the pay of corporate America, but I disliked the stress of things I couldn't control."
Having dabbled in investment properties in the area before purchasing his NPI franchise, Glaze's knowledge of both the real estate market and Realtors helped him get a running start. And his business has grown a little every month since he purchased a franchise in 2000.
"Rarely do I ever see the buyer," said Glaze, whose market includes primarily high-end vacation homes and rental properties. "I'm usually there with the buying or the selling agent. I complete an on-site inspection report and often e-mail it from the property in the presence of the agent while I'm on the telephone with the buyer. The other day, I conducted an inspection for a buyer in Finland and was on the telephone with him four hours later while we reviewed his report."
The company's technological tools have helped set him apart from the competition. So have his marketing techniques. Many agents in his area don't allow inspectors to stop by open houses to get acquainted, so Glaze attends sales meetings. He also found that his name has helped. "I say, `I'm Bob Glaze, just like the doughnuts,' then hand them a box of doughnuts."
Like Gilly, Glaze puts long hours into his business. "To be honest, there are days when the corporate world looks very attractive. But I can set my own schedule and control my destiny and, best of all, I really like it."
About The Author
Andrew Adams writes for www.magfranchise.org where you can find out more about franchising and other topics.