The Importance of Certification as a VOB

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Male supervisor sits at desk in his office

If you’re a veteran-owned business, be sure you’re certified

How many times you had been asked by your customers if your business is certified veteran-owned? If you’ve served in the military, and perhaps now have a service-related disability, you are often eligible for a certification that will allow you to receive up to 3 percent of prime federal government contracts and subcontracts, according to The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999.

Research by the National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) shows that 70 percent of Americans would prefer to do business with a veteran-owned business than one that is not veteran-owned. In addition, if you plan on doing business and securing contracts with the government a certification is necessary.

How to Get Certified as a Veteran-Owned Business: Do You Qualify?

The qualifications for becoming a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business are very specific. You must own at least 51 percent of the company applying for certification. But it’s not enough to be an owner just in name. You must also be in control of management and day-to-day operations within the business.

To prove that you are a veteran, you will need to have a Department of Defense Form 214(DD 214), which is issued upon a military service member’s retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military. If you intend to apply for service-disabled status, you will also need a letter from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs stating that you are, indeed, service-disabled. Contact the VA’s benefits office if you have lost or misplaced this disability status letter.

The first step of getting certified through the VA is registering with the VetBiz Registry, which is a veteran business database. The Center for Veterans Enterprise provides the registry as well as step-by-step guidelines on applying for certification with the VA. You will also be required to have the DD 214 form and possibly a letter from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs stating that you are service-disabled, if applicable.

Registering as a Service-Disabled Veteran

All federal agencies have set aside contracts for service-disabled veterans, if you do plan on doing business with the government, it would be smart to seek out a service-disability rating from the VA. There is no minimum disability rating required to register as a service-disabled veteran. You are eligible for the same benefits, regardless of whether you have a zero percent rating or a 100 percent rating.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 established an annual government-wide goal of not less than 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for participation by small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans.

Purpose of the SDVOSBC Program

The purpose of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program is to provide procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns if certain conditions are met.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for the SDVOSBC, you and your business must meet the following criteria:

  • The Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have a service-connected disability that has been determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense
  • The SDVOSBC must be small under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code assigned to the procurement
  • The SDV must unconditionally own 51% of the SDVOSBC
  • The SDVO must control the management and daily operations of the SDVOSBC
  • The SDV must hold the highest officer position in the SDVOSBC

Source: NaVOBA, VA.com, sba.gov, Inc.com

Inside the Specially Adapted Home Wayfair Furnished for a Veteran with a Disability and His Family

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Disabled veteran and family stand outside their new home

When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.

The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.

A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.

As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit organization that donates custom houses to veterans with disabilities, allowing them freedom in their homes as thanks for their service abroad. The organization teamed up with online furniture marketplace Wayfair to completely overhaul the Curtins’ home this past June, customizing it to both John’s accessibility needs and the pair’s personal style.

“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”

“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”

Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.

For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Daymond John — Turning Heroes into CEOs

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Daymond John speaking into microphone on stage

The Shark Tank’s Daymond John encourages veteran entrepreneurs to make waves in business.

By Lori Denman

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Daymond John has cast a pretty large net in the realm of business.

John, otherwise known as, “The People’s Shark,” is a busy man—leading his multi-million dollar FUBU clothing line and hosting the popular reality ABC hit, “Shark Tank,” that’s celebrating its 11th season.

But he never hesitates to take time to help a promising entrepreneur—particularly those who have served our country. “I’m working with veterans as much as I can,” he said.

John is in his third year of partnering with Bob Evans Farms to host an entrepreneurial contest called “Heroes to CEOs.” Finalists receive a free trip to New York City for a personalized, 45-minute session with John to help them perfect a pitch that could win them a $30,000 grant for their business.

John says the same traits that make veterans successful in combat—courage, teamwork, overcoming challenging obstacles, taking inventory of a situation—also apply in the boardroom. A veteran’s large network of supportive comrades is a further advantage, he added.

“I call it OPM, or other people’s manufacturing, mind power or marketing,” he said. “Meaning if you want to start up a business, make a list of friends and acquaintances who can assist in the mission. Soak up their knowledge and insight.”

Still, there’s a few personality traits characteristic of the military that may actually hinder a veteran entrepreneur, according to John in a recent interview for The Motley Fool.

Shark Tank panel seated together
Panel: (L-R) Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin OLeary, and Daymond John of Tribeca Talks: Ten Years of Shark Tank poses for a portrait. MATT DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES

“Vets were brought up to think about everybody else and stand in the line of fire. They don’t always put their needs first.”

There’s been more than a few veterans who have heeded John’s advice. Last month, Jonathan Norton, founder and CEO of Peak Safety Systems, was voted the winner of the third annual “Heroes to CEOs” program. A former Army Ranger, Norton invented the RopeSafe Edge protection system—life-saving equipment for military, first responders, and rope access professionals.

Norton says his company was born out of personal experience. ““I witnessed a student nearly fall to his death while he was repelling because the edge protector that we were using failed,” he said in a recent interview on cheddar.com.

“It was a scary moment and created a lot of fear, doubt and uncertainty. But it inspired me to find a solution. That was the impetus for developing the product.”

Although RopeSafe just launched, Norton has successfully sold to several areas throughout the U.S., including FDNY, NYPD, Dallas SWAT and more. Even a window washing company in Rochester, New York.

Daymond John books on display at book signing
Books on display during Daymond John book signing ” Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life”. JOHNNY LOUIS/GETTY IMAGES

When asked about entrepreneurial qualities he acquired during his time in the military, Norton says, “In spite of the hardships or the bumps in the road, it’s really about commitment to the mission and knowing I am serving a bigger purpose.”

John says he was blown away with Norton’s creativity, innovation and solid business plan. “He really rose to the top as an exceptional leader who is ready to take his business to the next level.

With several successful ventures under his belt over the last 30 years, John says he’s often asked what advice he gives veterans and others who wish to start their own business.

“I would say don’t mortgage your house for 100K,” he joked recently on Ladders.com, citing his own personal experience as John did indeed get his start by mortgaging his mother’s house.

After that, John started his successful clothing line but considers the risky move very lucky, adding, “It turned out for all the better, but knowing what I know now, I was very close to losing the house and everything we had.”

Daymond John standing wearing a gray suit
Photo: ADRIAN EDWARDS/GETTY IMAGES

His top 5 tips to veterans wanting to start a business as well as other entrepreneurs on Shark Tank:

  1. Set goals to know where you’re headed

By age 16, John had told himself he’d be a millionaire by age 30. But when he turned 22, he was broke and struggling to make a buck by buying and selling cars.

“I didn’t know how to properly execute goal-setting. It’s not just visualizing of a number or a certain age,” said John.

When the idea for FUBU came along, he decided to reshape the goal he set for himself. Instead of committing to making a million dollars by age 30, John instead made it his goal to outfit the hip-hop culture. Designing a clothing line became less about earning money and more about dedicating himself to a community — one that he thought would turn into future consumers.

“My goal became doing the best I can for the company I love,” John said.

  1. Homework — you still have to do it

After sneaking his way into a menswear conference in Las Vegas, John proudly showed off early prototypes of T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of his budding company, FUBU, an acronym that means “For Us, By Us.” He secured $300,000 worth of orders, and after his mother took out an equity line on their house in Queens, he took $100,000 to outfit a factory to get production going.

Just one problem: He hadn’t done any research on what it would cost to start a clothing line and get production going. In the process, he nearly lost his mom’s house and ended FUBU before it got off the ground.

Knowing what you need to launch a venture is something John stresses to the hopefuls who appear before him on Shark Tank. He has to see that an entrepreneur looking for funding has done their work to know what their market is and who their competitors are — and that they’ve used that knowledge to not only start driving sales but also improve on their track record.

  1. Adore what you do, and success will follow

A true entrepreneur must love what they’re doing—a seemingly trite lesson that John said is crucial for any successful entrepreneur. It’s passion for a project that will allow a person to push past failures and feeling burned out.

“Do what you love, and success will follow. Money may follow; but I can’t promise that it will,” he said. “But money’s more likely to follow when you’re doing something you love, because you’ll do it for 10 years or 20 years.”

  1. Remember, you — not just your business — are a brand

These days it’s easy to manufacture a personality using social media. But building a business is as much about how you carry yourself as it is about meeting quarterly sales figures or developing new products.

“Be very honest with yourself, especially today with social media. At any given time, your employees can see you,” John said. “So you have to know what the DNA of the brand is. It only takes your employees two weeks to treat your customers the same way they’re being treated.”

  1. Keep swimming, no matter what

John’s final point makes use of what he calls the power of positive thinking. Even as FUBU grew into a bigger company, he maintained a “healthy paranoia” about running a clothing company.

“I always said fashion brands are hot for five years and then they’re gone,” he said.

But keeping a persevering attitude spurred him to come up with solutions to problems instead of giving up. As John wrote in his book, The Power of Broke: “You have to be relentless, nimble, moving ever forward. No matter what.”

How Should I Answer This?

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Woman being interviewed sitting at a desk with potential employer

Interview tips for veterans entering the civilian workforce

Like many other service members leaving active duty service, I found preparing for the civilian workforce frustrating. Crafting your military service into a resume and preparing for an interview is daunting. One of the most common questions that I receive is, “How should I answer interview questions?” But it is just as important to think about what questions you will ask the employer.

Interviewing is a two-way dialogue. Yes, your potential employer will ask questions to learn more about you and the skills you bring to the table. It is great to leverage tools, such as the STAR technique (i.e., situation, task, action, result), which will help you practice translating your military experience and assist with preparing a clear and concise response to your interviewer.

While you are preparing to answer questions, it is equally important you prepare relevant questions to learn more about your potential employer, supervisor and the position to ensure that the opportunity is a good fit for your career aspirations. The best approach to asking fact-finding questions is to keep them focused, open ended and not too broad. Just remember to stay away from questions that yield yes or no responses. If you are unsure about what to ask in an interview, below are some key examples that will help you showcase you are the perfect hire.

At the beginning of an interview, an employer often asks to learn more about you and what you are seeking in a job. This question is an opportunity to set the tone of the interview and to showcase what you want to highlight about yourself. As you conclude your answer, use the opportunity to learn more about what the interviewer is seeking.

Perhaps, “I was excited to meet with you today. Could you tell me a bit more about you’re looking for?” This question accomplishes a few things. First, it prevents you from talking too much. When job candidates are not being interrupted—and are possibly nervous—they tend to ramble.

Asking a question can give you a break and allows the employer to talk. This strategy can also help establish a trend of productive back-and-forth dialogue. Another question to ask at the beginning of the interview is, “Could you explain the roles and responsibilities of this position in more detail?” When the employer answers this question, ask if him or her could prioritize the duties for you as well. This way, when the employer asks you to articulate what you’ve done in your previous roles, you can highlight how your previous experience aligns with the position in front of you.

Next, consider drafting questions that can help you learn more about the organizational culture, day-to-day jobs, responsibilities, education, skills and experience requirements, as well as soft skills or character traits the employer is seeking. The employer will be analyzing you on competency and culture fit, looking skills, education, personality, and desire to do the job well. At the same time, you should be looking to determine whether you want to work for the company, and whether the opportunity is one you can perform.

To help your thought process, it can be beneficial to ask questions about the goals or objectives for the position:
—How does the employer determine success in this role?
—What obstacles might you encounter to accomplishing those goals?
—Are the goals realistic?
—What resources are available to achieve the goals?

Remember, an interview is an exchange of information. Asking thoughtful questions is a great way to determine whether you really want the job. Good luck!

Author-Pamela Johnson
Pamela Johnson is the Veterans and Military Families Program Manager, Goodwill Industries International.

Source: goodwill.org

Beacon Roofing Supply Launches Beacon of Hope Contest for Military Veterans

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picture of two men working on a new roof

Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. announced the launch of its first annual contest, through which Beacon will award deserving veteran homeowners new roofs. The contest is open to all military veterans who received honorable or general discharges. There will be a total of five that will be chosen.

“The Beacon of Hope contest is one way we can give back to the men and women who have given so much to our country,” said Eric Swank, Beacon’s Chief Operating Officer. “It is an honor and privilege to provide a safe roof that they can be proud of and that will protect their family and their belongings.”

From now through September 20, 2019, the public can nominate a deserving U.S. veteran at go.becn.com/beaconofhope Nominations must include a photo and short bio of the veteran, which includes their military branch, years of service and why the nominee is deserving of a new roof.

Ten finalists will be announced in September, and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite finalists. Beacon will announce the winners and runners-up on Veterans Day.

To learn more about the Beacon of Hope contest and read the official contest rules, visit go.becn.com/beaconofhope.

About Beacon Roofing Supply

Founded in 1928, Beacon Roofing Supply is the largest publicly traded distributor of residential and commercial roofing materials and complementary building products in North America, operating over 500 branches throughout all 50 states in the U.S. and 6 provinces in Canada. Beacon serves an extensive base of over 100,000 customers, utilizing its vast branch network and diverse service offerings to provide high-quality products and support throughout the entire business lifecycle. Beacon also offers its own private label brand, TRI-BUILT, and has a proprietary digital account management suite, Beacon Pro+, which allows customers to manage their businesses online. A Fortune 500 company, Beacon’s stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol BECN. To learn more about Beacon and its brands, please visit becn.com.

Ford, ROUSH Unveil One-of-a-Kind ‘Old Crow’ Mustang GT to be Auctioned for EAA Aviation Programs at AirVenture 2019

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Ford and Roush Performance today unveil the 2019 “Old Crow” Mustang GT, a charity collaboration project which pays homage to World War II triple ace pilot Colonel Bud Anderson of the U.S. Army Air Force and the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter planes he flew in combat – nicknamed “Old Crow.”

This one-of-one Mustang will be auctioned at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2019 AirVenture air show on July 25 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. All proceeds will be donated to support EAA’s youth and adult aviation programs, many of which help prepare the next generation of America’s great pilots.

Built by Roush Performance, the “Old Crow” Mustang GT features a custom paint scheme and badging replicating Col. Anderson’s iconic P-51 Mustang fighter plane. A custom Roush grille with P-51 Mustang badge adorns the front, the words “Old Crow” are written on the hood and an authentic Eighth Air Force emblem badge adorns the decklid panel.

Performance in the “Old Crow” Mustang GT comes by way of a Ford and Roush Performance TVS R2650 supercharger, which boosts the 5.0-liter V8 engine to 710 horsepower and 610 lb.-ft. of torque. Other performance upgrades include a Roush Performance cold air induction system and X pipe, plus a custom active exhaust system from Ford Performance.

The “Old Crow” Mustang uses Ford’s MagneRide® damping system and puts power to the ground through a set of custom 20-inch lightweight Roush wheels wrapped in 275/35R Continental ExtremeContact sport tires.

Exterior enhancements include Roush rear fascia aerofoils, Ford Performance front racing spoiler, 2020 Mustang Shelby® GT500® rear spoiler, custom heat extractors on the hood and blue rainbow tinted exhaust tips that emulate the exhaust on the P-51 Mustang planes.

Inside the cabin, a fully custom, aircraft-inspired interior features unique military-themed green leather and canvas and red shifter nob and door handles. “P-51” is written on the passenger-side dashboard. The vehicle includes Sparco four-point harness as well as aluminum rear seat-delete.

“Heroes like Col. Bud Anderson have become true living legends in the 75 years since the Allied invasion of Normandy,” said Craig Metros, Ford design director. “Ford is proud to team up with Roush Performance to honor Col. Anderson and all of the brave servicemen and servicewomen who risked their lives during World War II, all while raising funds for the Experimental Aircraft Association, which helps make flying more accessible to America’s youth.”

Col. Anderson achieved more than 16 aerial victories in Europe during World War II. He flew 116 combat missions, including a six-hour mission on D-Day. He was never struck by enemy fire or forced to withdraw from an aerial engagement during his career. Col. Anderson’s service earned him more than 25 decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal.

Roush Enterprises founder and aviation enthusiast Jack Roush, Sr. honored Col. Anderson in 1994 by fully re-creating an authentic P-51 Mustang aircraft with the same badging and paint scheme as the Anderson’s “Old Crow” Mustang plane.

“It is truly special to have the opportunity to honor a great American hero and a truly great friend of mine such as Col. Bud Anderson,” said Roush, Sr.. “My father instilled in me a love of aviation and a deep respect for the brave pilots and airmen of World War II. Building this incredible ‘Old Crow’ Mustang, especially to support the next generation of America’s pilots, has been a very rewarding opportunity and one that we’re proud to share with the world.”

The “Old Crow” Mustang GT will be displayed during EAA’s AirVenture show from July 22-28. EAA AirVenture guests can get an up-close look before the car is auctioned on July 25 at the annual EAA AirVenture auction – The Gathering.

EAA AirVenture attracts more than 600,000 aviation enthusiasts to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin every year. Ford has supported EAA AirVenture for 21 years, building and donating 11 custom-designed vehicles to help raise more than $3.5 million to date.

These include the 2018 Eagle Squadron Mustang, 2016 “Ole Yeller” Mustang and 2015 Mustang Apollo Edition. Ford’s highest-selling vehicle auctioned at AirVenture is the 2008 Mustang AV8R, which sold for $500,000.

“Ford and Roush Performance are helping build the next generation of aviation through their support of EAA, AirVenture and The Gathering,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board. “This project not only will be a highlight of The Gathering; its impact will help EAA reach those who are pursuing their own dreams of flight.”

Bidding at “The Gathering” auction is open to all interested parties. Bids can be made in person or remotely online.

To learn more about the “Old Crow” Mustang GT and Roush Performance’s full line of vehicles and performance products, visit www.ROUSHperformance.com/. Further information on Ford Motor Company is available at www.Ford.com/. For bidding information on “Old Crow,” call 920.426.6573.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 196,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.Corporate.Ford.com.

About ROUSH Performance
ROUSH Performance was founded in 1995 by motorsports legend Jack Roush, the winningest name in racing.  Combining performance engineering with entrepreneurship, ROUSH began selling designs he had created for his own team to the wider world of motorsports. Based out of Plymouth Township, Michigan, ROUSH Performance, a division of Roush Enterprises, designs, engineers and manufactures completely assembled pre-titled vehicles, aftermarket performance parts, and superchargers for the global performance enthusiast market. For more on ROUSH please call 1.800.59.ROUSH or visit www.ROUSHperformance.com.

About EAA
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, embodies The Spirit of Aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 220,000 members and 900 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to EAA.org

Calling All Veterans: Veteran Shark Tank Embarks on National Search for Winning Business Concept

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Shark Tank Veterans poster with image of judges for the competition

Veteran Shark Tank is going national. The annual program to find the best Veteran business concept is expanding to four cities before finalists convene in Philadelphia for the ultimate showdown.

Veteran entrepreneurs in Chicago, Atlanta, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea during regional qualifiers this summer. The selected Veterans will then go head-to-head during the finals in Philadelphia in December. This competition will ultimately award one winner $50,000 to pursue their dream business. The winner will also gain access to a vast Veteran network as they create or expand their business.

Jerry Flanagan, an Army Veteran and the co-founder and CEO of JDog Brands, a Veteran and military family owned franchise organization, has been selected as a VIP judge again this year. He was a Veteran Shark Tank contestant in 2014 and served as a mentor the following three years. Jerry will sit among other celebrity guest judges from the Veteran business community.

“I understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur because I lived it by building JDog Brands. I’ve also been a part of every aspect of the Veteran Shark Tank competition, so I know exactly what to look for in a winner,” said Flanagan. “As Veterans, we inherently have the drive, determination, and perseverance to put a plan into action and make it successful. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of capital to help a concept flourish, and this committee is searching for one Veteran to give a jump start.”

The Veteran Shark Tank was created in 2012 as a way to promote and assist Veterans who are starting or growing their own businesses. The event has grown over the years, with sponsors, candidates and attendees coming from all over the country for the finals held in Philadelphia.

Eligible Veterans must submit a business plan as part of the application. If applicants make it through the first round, they will present their plan to 3-5 judges at the regional qualifiers. The winner in each city will then present to a panel of VIP judges in front of a live audience in Philadelphia. The panel will include Flanagan; Lieutenant Colonel Justin Constantine, a Marine Corps Veteran and Veteran employment expert; Mark Rockefeller, an Air Force Veteran and co-founder and CEO of StreetShares; and Erica Webster, an Army Veteran and the founder and CEO of Dub Fitness.

To determine eligibility and requirements, and to apply for the regional qualifiers in Chicago (August 12), Atlanta (August 19), San Diego (August 26), and Washington, D.C. (September 8), please visit www.veteransharktank.com.

About JDog Brands

JDog Brands is the umbrella for an array of home and commercial services franchise organizations owned and operated by Veterans and Military family members. Its first two divisions are JDog Junk Removal & Hauling and JDog Carpet Cleaning. Over the next 10 years, JDog Brands will introduce 10 new service divisions and open 5,000 new franchises nationwide. For more information, visit jdogbrands.com.

Helping Others See the World

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Jim Higgins

Jim Higgins is the owner of Js Travel Consultants LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the past 26 years, he has been learning, innovating and successfully filling the needs and goals of employers, team members and travel partners.

Beginning his travel career with World Connections Travel in Clearwater, Florida, and presently operating Js Travel Consultants in Las Vegas, Higgins says it’s been a great adventure. From the first interaction developing resort programs to generation leisure and meeting segments of all types, And he’s enjoyed his journey, every step of the way.

Higgins spoke to U.S. Veterans Magazine about establishing a business after his military service.

Why did you decide to open your own business?

As I progressed in my career, I had many different challenges and success. I made the decision to open my own business after working for my last two companies, from which I was laid off, followed by a reduction in force. At that point, I said “No more.” I didn’t want to go into work each day looking over my shoulder and wondering about my future there.

I have many friends in the Industry who said I should start my own business, that I would be good at it. It took a while to think about it, but I’m glad I did. Celebrating our fifth anniversary in business this year was one of the greatest achievements in my professional career.

What resources did you use when you were just starting up?

I took the public approach and started with SCORE Las Vegas, the Small Business Development Center and Diversify Nevada. The mentors and advice were awesome, cost was less and it was much easier.

What lessons did you take from the military that helped you in running your own business?

Attention to detail, focus, discipline and structure. Those qualities have allowed me to be more creative and know that I can accomplish my goals with fun and professionalism.

What advice would you give other veterans who want to open their own businesses?

It’s scary and a big commitment; but once you get past your initial fears and get rolling, it’s very satisfying and rewarding. When you get up in the morning and see the boss in the mirror, you smile! Don’t be afraid of the responsibilities that come with running your own business—this is what you were trained for.

Being a certified veteran owned small business can open a lot of doors for you. People recognize your honor, commitment, and integrity. Clients will work more with people they trust more often than those they don’t.

Higgins has 27 years of experience and a lot of common sense. Working in Las Vegas—one of the most competitive markets on the planet—“You need to combine not only who you know; but what you know,” he says. Visit jstravelconsultants.com for more information.

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Husband & Wife – Both Military Vets – Launch #1 Mobile Flooring Brand Together

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Lorrie, Lewis Willey stand posing in front of their Floor Coverings van in Colorado Springs, CO

When you are thrown a few curveballs in your working career, you sometimes have to take control of your own destiny, and that’s just what Lewis and Lorrie Willey did when they each decided to leave their jobs and make the most of their new life in Colorado Springs by becoming franchisees with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Both Lewis (U.S. Air Force) and Lorrie (U.S. Army) are veterans. Although the couple had spent many years living in Amarillo, Texas, Lewis had always said he would like to retire to Colorado Springs after having been stationed at the Air Force Academy and the couple frequently vacationed in the area. Working as a dialysis nurse, Lewis had the opportunity to relocate to Colorado Springs in 2017. They moved that fall and Lorrie had hoped to continue her executive career with a large insurance company by working remotely from Colorado Springs, but she “retired” after being unable to do so.

Complicating matters even more after their relocation, Lewis was asked to work at a clinic in Alamosa – a three-hour drive from Colorado Springs – several days each week. “He would drive down on Monday and drive back Wednesday or Thursday,” Lorrie said. “It was not what we had in mind when we moved to Colorado and it did not fit our lifestyle ideas. We started looking for other opportunities and got connected with a franchise broker. He showed us what a franchise could do for us in terms of working together to build a future in preparation for retirement down the road.”

Now the couple couldn’t be happier. Lewis had previous experience as a property claims adjuster and he’s been putting those skills to work as a Design Associate, visiting customers’ homes and advising them on appropriate flooring types for their needs. “His knowledge of housing materials, measuring and estimating made him a great fit for that role,” said Lorrie, who will be overseeing the office manager and project coordinator, as well as building community relationships and the Floor Coverings International brand.

In Floor Coverings International, the Willeys found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood.

“We assessed six different business models and decided that Floor Coverings International had the best business model, the best match for us in terms of utilizing our existing skill sets, and enough moving parts to really challenge us,” Lorrie said. “We also identified closely with their moral code of ethics, their customer service model and their community involvement with Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

The Army Needs Entrepreneurs

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army woman sitting at desk in a wheelchair smiling in to camera

The military needs innovative ideas from small businesses and entrepreneurs now more than ever, according to Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.

McCarthy spoke in March at Muster DC, an event in the nation’s capital for military veterans aspiring to be entrepreneurs. “If you look at the history of the Department of Defense, we were at our best when entrepreneurs were doing business with us,” he said.

As an example, he cited that the first jeeps for World War II were actually designed and built by a small motor company called American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvania. Later, the
design was shared with Willys-Overland and Ford to produce the jeeps on a larger scale.

DOD was at its best when small businesses brought their ideas and “partnered with big corporations to scale out those ideas,” McCarthy said. “We got away from that for the last several decades,” he said, adding the Army’s practice has been to put out 1,000-page requests for proposals, or RFPs, specifying the exact size and weight of each component of a system.

Businesses maybe had a better solution, he said, but they would never share it, because that’s not what they were incentivized to do. That culture needs to change, McCarthy said, and that’s one reason the Army Futures Command was organized. It’s why Soldiers have been placed alongside tech innovators at an “accelerator hub” in Austin, Texas.

The purpose of Futures Command is to drive innovation, he said, “so that we can do business
faster. So small businesses don’t get their cash flow crushed waiting years for us to make a decision.” Out of more than 800 programs that the Army oversees, eight have been granted a special “transactional authority” to do business differently, he said.

The Futures Command has eight crossfunctional teams: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, Army network, air and missile defense, Soldier lethality, synthetic training environment; and assured positioning, navigation and timing.

The Army needs a “quick win” in these eight programs, McCarthy said, to change the acquisition culture and to keep ahead of nearpeer adversaries. The U.S. military has enjoyed a vast technological advantage for years, he said, but competitors are quickly catching up.

McCarthy said he’d like to see Soldiers in accelerator hubs across the country so entrepreneurs will have easy access to pitch their ideas.

Entrepreneurs who are military veterans have an advantage, he said, because they are resilient and can deal with stress. They know how to organize and plan. When getting ready to leave the Army, where he served as a Ranger, McCarthy said at his first interview in Manhattan, he was asked what he knew about finance.

“I said, ‘Nothing. But I know how to plan and I know how to organize and there would be nothing you can put me through that I hadn’t been through already in the form of stress and pressure,’” he said. After the interviewer stopped laughing, McCarthy said he took a chance and hired him.

The company even held the job open for a year, because soon afterward, the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred, and McCarthy agreed to stay in the Army for a deployment before going to work in New York.

Veterans are not afraid to engage, he said, and have commitment. “Nobody wants to follow a leader that hedges,” he said. “They want somebody that’s playing ‘double-in’ every day.”

Veterans have some of the key attributes business leaders need to have, he said, “especially if they’re going to start their own business.”

Other talents the Army needs most right now include systems engineering and software coding, McCarthy said. Weapons systems are sophisticated and have millions of lines of coding, he said. Most failures of weapons systems in the past came from not having the right systems architecture, he said, which resulted in weapons not being able to communicate with other platforms.

Source: army.mil