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.”

Navy Veteran Builds Successful Second Career as a Franchise Business Owner

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Ronald Finch veteran business owner

By Rhonda Sanderson

Ron Finch doesn’t need Veterans Day to remind him he’s in select company. A career Naval officer who served 22 years, Finch is a franchise owner with Enviro-Master Services, North America’s leading health and safety-focused commercial cleaning service that has doubled in size since 2012. A favorite among veterans, Enviro-Master offers a 25 percent discount to former military members. Conversely, veterans are a favorite among franchisors, and with good reason.

“I would tell any veteran to keep their nose to the grindstone, because it’s going to be a lot of work. However, the reward is great; the ability to make a difference in others’ lives, to make a difference in the community where you live and financial independence and autonomy for yourself.” Finch, a Mobile resident who purchased an existing Enviro-Master franchise in July 2018, serves commercial businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama and Mississippi.

Enviro-Master is focused on making a difference in the health of communities around the world with 78 franchise locations currently servicing thousands of retail and restaurant locations weekly. Enviro-Master provides a comprehensive disease prevention, odor control and sterilization program for commercial businesses. In 2018 Enviro-Master International Franchise was ranked for the fifth year in a row by Inc. 5000 as one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, and in 2019 for the seventh year in a row by Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

Having spent more than two decades as a Naval Aviator, Finch said he was fortunate to hold many leadership positions in his former career. Among them, returning from his last deployment, Finch became the Maintenance Officer of a failing maintenance department at his squadron, responsible for 11 helicopters and approximately 200 personnel.

“I had to work to instill a culture of excellence and integrity, and that’s a philosophy I carried with me when I bought my existing franchise,” Finch said of Enviro-Master, which provides unique processes and products that disinfect and sterilize surfaces that serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, such as the flu, Hepatitis, Norovirus and MRSA. Enviro-Master’s commercial restroom hygiene service, which is applied with EPA-registered, non-toxic products, ensures 99.99 percent of germs are killed. “Our brand had low recognition in my territory,” said Finch, whose majority of customers are restaurants and convenience stores. “It is very exciting to be out on the sales road telling businesses what we do. I’m adding customers because most thought they only had one or two big-name, high-priced choices until we met.”

After retiring from the Navy, Finch considered several options, but they involved relocating, something Finch wanted to avoid for his family. A franchise coach introduced him to Enviro-Master, a company that is a recognized leader in the $61 billion commercial cleaning industry, which is expected to grow by an additional two percent in 2019 alone, according to experts.

Finch offers these three lessons he learned in the military that he translated to his new business:

  • Integrity is paramount. In the military, shortcutting a procedure can result in loss of life. In this business, doing things the right way every time keeps the customers happy and aids in retention.
  • These next two fall under leadership. Every military leader knows leading by example is vital to creating a high-performing culture. With my business, I have to hold myself to the highest standard if I am to demand excellence from my team and expect them to execute.
  • Also, under the broader leadership category is taking care of your people. Those who are working hard have to know their boss (leader) cares for them. If the boss is setting the example and caring for the employees, they feel valued and respected from the top and are much more willing to perform at a high level. Overall, these lessons result in accomplishing the mission of customer retention, business growth, and gaining more business from customer base (Retain, Grow, Gain).

Currently targeting growth in major markets throughout North America, Enviro-Master’s continued growth is fueled by five basic fundamentals: 1) Large, identifiable markets; 2) Lack of competition; 3) Recession resistance; 4) Recurring revenue model; and 5) Service that can’t be displaced by technology. “I considered a few different franchises at first, but Enviro-Master was my favorite choice based on their business model,” Finch said. “After my discovery weekend with Enviro-Master leadership and staff, I knew it was the right choice.”

Rhonda Sanderson is founder and president of Sanderson PR, a Chicago-based marketing and public relations firm specializing in franchising since 1986.

Photo Credit: John Amato

Milo Ventimiglia Brings the Impact of War Home

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Milo V. Featured-Shaking hands-USVM

By Sara Salam

Understanding the effect war can have on an individual and their family is something Milo Ventimiglia knows intimately. His dad, Peter Ventimiglia, served two tours of duty as a soldier in Vietnam.

Ventimiglia has friends who served more recently, and he almost went into the Navy himself at age 18. This military connection has retained its significance in his life, though he ultimately has pursued a different path.

This path includes a career in the world of Hollywood, where Ventimiglia has earned fan acclaim for roles such as Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls, Peter Petrelli in Heroes, and most recently, Jack Person in This Is Us. He’s even spent time behind the camera in a director capacity.

Now in its fourth season, This Is Us is an NBC series chronicling the lives and families of two parents, and their three children in several different time frames. Ventimiglia’s character, Jack Pearson, is the protagonist and late husband of Rebecca; the couple are the parents around which the main storyline centers. Jack is also a Vietnam veteran.

Inspired by his father’s service, Ventimiglia weaves sentiments conveyed to him by his father into Jack’s character.

“It was very easy to reflect on stories I’d heard from my father and then kind of tie things together,” he said. “It very much informed who Jack became – coming from combat, coming from war, looking out for his brother and really looking after the guys that he served with.”

Ventimiglia himself is active in expressing and garnering support for military service members.

Last year, Ventimiglia spent time with military leaders and Defense Department personnel at the Pentagon, with the goal of developing new ways to strengthen the civilian-military connection.

Several months ago, Ventimiglia took part in the 21-push-up challenge, in which 21 push-ups are executed to bring awareness for veteran suicides. He is actively involved with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization (IAVA), which supports veterans who need help when they return home from war.

He has performed in USO shows for deployed troops and been visiting military bases for about a decade.

“We did 10 shows over six days, covering 17,000 miles, 18 flights, five countries and eight time zones,” the actor said of a recent USO tour. “It was the first tour that I’ve been on where we were actually putting on a show.”

When it was his turn to perform, he would ask a service member to join him onstage to act out a scene from This Is Us.

Milo Ventiglia and cast of This is Us
This Is Us: (L-R) Ron Cephas Jones, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Chris Sullivan, Siddhartha Khosla, Justin Hartley, Mandy Moore, Susan Kelechi Watson, Michael Angarano, and Milo Ventimiglia attend NBC’s This Is Us attend event in Hollywood. PHOTO BY RACHEL LUNA/GETTY IMAGES

Themes of War

Season 3, for example, delves deeply into how Jack’s time in Vietnam as a solider shaped him.

Season 4, in contrast, focuses on more of Jack and Rebecca’s story before they became parents. However, the themes of Vietnam are present in their love story.

“The Vietnam stuff informs the new love, let’s just say, because it’s fresh in Jack’s mind, it’s fresh in Jack’s heart,” Ventimiglia told The Hollywood Reporter. “He is someone who’s just home from war, but yet he wants to move forward in his life, he wants to embrace this feeling of home he’s getting from this woman…It’s a bit relieving to be away from the war moments and play new love, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking, too, because we know how that story ends. Jack dies in his 50s. So, the whole is basically just one big heartbreak.”

Preparing for Combat

As part of his preparation for the Vietnam-specific scenes, Ventimiglia participated in a boot camp that taught the basic operating procedure of a solider and a solider of the Vietnam era. But he notes that the process and protocols are but a fraction of the required research to fully embody Jack’s character.

“Emotionally understanding what was going on at that time in the world, but in particular in the U.S.—young men being drafted and really how the draft was going to drastically change someone’s life and put them on a course that a lot of guys just couldn’t recover from—that was something that was as much preparation as learning how to operate an M16 rifle, protocol in military, and battle scenes.”

Ventimiglia also leveraged Tim O’Brien’s personal account of the war to inform his character. O’Brien is the author of The Things They Carried, a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War. This work is based on his own experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division.

While Ventimiglia synthesizes the soldierly aspects of battle from primary sources, like his dad and O’Brien, he makes sure to parlay the sentimental undertones that shape who Jack is.

“There’s always an emotional touchstone that I have to be aware of within the technical aspect of playing war,” Ventimiglia said. “Because of who Jack is and what he’s going through, I can’t just dive him into ‘super-militaristic guy with the golden heart’; he’s the guy with the conscience. But in this case, the guy with the golden heart is attached to a rifle.”

Most of the Vietnam narrative was shot at Lake Piru in California, but production also took place actually in Vietnam.

Milo Ventiglia at premiere
Milo Ventimiglia attends “The Art Of Racing In The Rain” New York Premiere in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/WireImage)

“For me, I was very aware,” Ventimiglia said of shooting in Vietnam, “and maybe a little self-conscious of wearing an American uniform over there.”

The actor pointed to a particularly striking moment during a break from shooting near two lotus fields. Wearing the full battle dress uniform—complete with a rifle slung on his shoulder—Ventimiglia was standing in place when an older man on a bicycle came upon him.

“He kind of looked at me, looked at me again and said something to himself and kept riding,” Ventimiglia said. “And Dustin Nguyen, who was my costar who played Bao, he starts laughing … I guess the guy [said], ‘An American soldier, what the hell is he doing here again?’”

A Personal Battle

Ventimiglia’s character doesn’t like to talk about his experiences in war, because he doesn’t want anyone to bear the burden of knowing.

“[Jack] doesn’t want anybody to have to shoulder that or be concerned for him, because Jack and who he is and being a man of that era, I think he bottles it all up and he shoulders it. He gets through it for himself. He doesn’t want anybody else to have to help him deal with it. He just will keep it concealed forever, which ultimately he does.”

Ventimiglia understands this personal paradox, and does his best to convey how these emotions can play out amongst family and friends. He sees it in his dad.

“My dad is such a great man,” he told PEOPLE’s Jess Cagle. “I know even though he presented himself as put-together, I know that war impacted him and affected him; I would start to pull those feeling I saw from my own father into Jack.”

Organizations like America’s Warrior Partnership are committed to empowering communities to address issues like veteran mental health. It fills the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy and improving their results.

For example, Community Integration is an America’s Warrior service model that emphasizes holistic support inclusive of mental health, ensuring veterans are empowered to achieve a better quality of life.

“He may be past physical war, but it doesn’t mean he’s not in private war—personal war,” Ventimiglia said of Jack in an Entertainment Weekly (EW) interview. “Those fractures and cracks that you just never recover from. We’re going to see him go through that experience post-war, really trying to reconnect and restart. What is life after Vietnam?”

Actor Milo Ventimiglia laughs with Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth H. Scott during a visit to the Pentagon
Actor Milo Ventimiglia laughs with Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth H. Scott during a visit to the Pentagon.

Directorial Debut

Ventimiglia, who was recently nominated for his third consecutive Lead Actor Emmy, has expanded his role with This Is Us to include director. His directorial debut, episode five of season four, “Storybook Love,” follows his own character and his pregnant wife as they host their first family get-together in their new house. The episode also follows a still-grieving Rebecca a year after Jack’s death hosting a dinner after Kevin – her son –shared his marital news.

Ventimiglia leveraged his role as the actor embodying Jack as well as Jack’s own proximity to the characters. He says this gave him a depth of understanding and appreciation for their roles in the narrative.

“I watch the show from almost a studious place where I’m focused on the making of it, the look of it and the feel of it. Aside from acting on the show, I’m a fan.”

Because of the anachronistic approach the show takes to storytelling, it’s crucial the stories and timelines are consistent throughout the narrative.

“I love the working backwards of this show,” Ventimiglia told The Hollywood Reporter. “We know that Jack lost his life in a fire. How are we going to get there? It’s informing where we’re going to be going.”

Announcing the new home for Sky Ball!

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Sky Ball announcement promo poster

Arlington, Texas —  The  Airpower Foundation  is proud to announce the new home for the upcoming  Sky Ball XVIII ; at the brand-new, state-of-the-art,  Texas Rangers Globe Life Field  in Arlington Texas. On the weekend of August 21 st  and 22 nd  2020, the largest and most impactful civilian military support event in the nation joins the Major Leagues.

“We are ecstatic to welcome the Airpower Foundation and their world-famous Sky Ball event to Globe Life Field. The work that the Airpower Foundation does for our military is truly extraordinary and we are honored to be their host for 2020 and beyond.” Said  Sean DeckerEVP, Sports and Entertainment, Texas Rangers Baseball Club.

Since its inception as the premier fundraising event for the Airpower Foundation, an all-volunteer organization, Sky Ball has raised over $20 million. Thanks to generous sponsors, Sky Ball has grown from a single evening fundraising dinner to a weekend of tributes honoring our nation’s military and their families. Activities over the weekend’s festivities include educational outreach programs to local schools, a Friday evening concert dedicated to our military and families, a portrait presentation-luncheon honoring a fallen military hero, all of which culminates with the Sky Ball Saturday evening Gala.

“The Airpower Foundation has displayed an unwavering commitment when it comes to supporting our military veterans across this great country,” said  Jeff Williams ,   Mayor of   Arlington . “The foundation’s legacy of recognizing their sacrifices, and taking care of military families, is an inspiration to all Americans. We’re incredibly honored to welcome the prestigious Sky Ball to Arlington, the home of the future National Medal of Honor Museum, and we’re grateful for the instrumental leadership of Airpower Chairman Sid Eppes for helping us showcase why The American Dream City has a patriotic spirit that’s second to none.”

“We couldn’t be more excited with this opportunity to host our 18 th  annual event at the brand-new ballpark with the Texas Rangers.” Said  Sid EppesChairman of the Airpower Foundation . “This extraordinary new venue will allow us to raise more funds than ever before, making an even larger impact changing the lives of our nation’s military, veterans, wounded, their families, and the families of our fallen military heroes.”

Over the past twenty years, Airpower Foundation has grown to fund more than 72 programs across the country annually, ensuring the funds raised directly impact and support those who need it the most.

For more information on individual and sponsorship opportunities, please visit  AirpowerFoundation.org

Airpower Foundation

The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with its roots dating back to 1958, when Air Force General Curtis LeMay and businessman/philanthropist Frank Kent created the Fort Worth Airpower Council dedicated to supporting the military community at Carswell Air Force Base.

The mission of the Airpower Foundation has grown since its formation in 1999 and is now a nationwide, all-volunteer program dedicated to supporting active duty, reserve and National Guard families. Airpower also supports projects to assist wounded service members, children of our fallen military, veterans of previous wars and educational projects to make sure the next generation understands the honor and sacrifice of wearing the cloth of this country. Thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters, the Airpower Foundation currently funds over 72 grants annually nationwide.

The Airpower Foundation board of directors is a diverse group of professionals who volunteer their time and are dedicated to the proposition that freedom is not free. It is their noble mission to assist deployed military families, wounded service members, and veterans of past wars. They spend countless hours visiting military installations and families, assessing needs and grant requests. They are instrumental in providing leadership to organize and execute numerous projects every year in support of military families.

airpowerfoundation.org

Sky Ball

Sky Ball is the premier fundraising event for the Airpower Foundation and has raised over $20 million since its inception thanks to our generous sponsors. Sky Ball has grown from a single evening fundraising dinner, to a weekend of events honoring our nation’s military and their families. Events over the weekend include educational outreach programs to local area schools, a concert for military and families Friday evening, a portrait presentation luncheon honoring a fallen military hero, which all culminates with the Sky Ball Gala Saturday evening.

Retired US Navy Commander and Harvard MBA Begins New Career with Floor Coverings International

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Kris Piotrowski stands outside her work vehicle

Kris Piotrowski’s background couldn’t have positioned her any better for her “second career.” The fact that she’s following in the legacy of her father is only icing on the cake.

The 48-year-old Piotrowski, a retired U.S. Navy Commander who holds a Harvard MBA and also had a successful stint working in Corporate America, launched operations as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Mesa, AZ serves clients throughout Mesa, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Queen Creek, Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Laveen, Litchfield Park, Tolleson, Avondale and Goodyear.

“I do think that my military experience, coupled with my leadership and business training from Corporate America, is a definite asset to my business,” said Piotrowski, a Scottsdale resident who spent four years after her military career as a Facilities and Logistics expert. “Additionally, I have more than 10 years of facilities/flooring experience and am organized and driven.”

Piotrowski was further inspired to pursue small-business ownership when she recalled her father’s trade when she was a youngster. “I have always wanted to own my own business,” she said. “I grew up with a father who was a cobbler and supported his family by making and repairing shoes. When I received my MBA, I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur and it was an inspiring moment in my career.”

In Floor Coverings International, Piotrowski 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.

“I was inspired to select Floor Coverings International over other franchisors based on its culture, franchisee support, initial investment, and of course, being able to set my own schedule,” Piotrowski said. “Floor Coverings International was head and shoulders above the rest.”

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 2020.

For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com

And to find your closest location, please visit floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Kurt Busch Continues Commitment to Veterans and Active Duty Servicemembers Through Race Ticket Giveaway Program

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Kurt Busch pictured in NASCAR uniform smiling

NASCAR veteran driver and NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) Champion Kurt Busch announced plans recently for the KB100 Plus (KB100+) ticket giveaway. Hoping to build on the success of his offer in 2019, where he provided 100 tickets to every NCS race in partnership with Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix).

“I will call on the consideration of other drivers, tracks and industry partners to support the ticket offering from what we did in 2019”, said Busch. In 2019 there were more than 50,000 requests for the 3,800 tickets that were made available through Vet Tix.  Busch commented, “I have always had a strong desire to pay respect to those who have served and continue to serve our country. My hope is that with help from others we can enhance the offering for more deserving Vet Tix members to attend races this season, hence KB100+”.

“Our mission is to give something to those who gave, and the commitment Kurt has made to partner with Vet Tix has been extraordinary,” said Mike Focareto, U.S. Navy veteran, CEO and Founder of Veteran Tickets Foundation. “His impact on supporting the Vet Tix mission to honor our current serving military members and veterans of all eras and their families has been significant. Whether he’s visiting troops convalescing at hospitals, giving our VetTixers an opportunity to enjoy a race, or meeting him in pit row, he has been the example of how a top-athlete and influencer can make a difference in so many lives. We are proud to partner with Kurt to share an initiative to help those who serve and their families make lifelong memories through racing.”

Whether it is one additional ticket, or a match of Busch’s commitment to 100 tickets to every race, KB100+ will offer Vet Tix members the chance to attend an NCS race at every event on the schedule.

About Veteran Tickets Foundation:

Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides free tickets to sporting events, concerts, performing arts and family activities to currently serving military, National Guard and Reserves, veterans of all eras, immediate family of those killed in action, and VetTixers’ caregivers. Since 2008, Vet Tix has provided over 9 million free event tickets to more than 1.5 million members. In 2018 Vet Tix launched 1st Tix, which provides the same service to our nation’s current and retired law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs. These events help service members, veterans and first responders reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build lifelong memories, and encourage them to stay engaged with American life and their local communities. Vet Tix spends over 95 percent of its revenue on programs, ensuring that we give back to those who have given so much. Visit VetTix.org and 1stTix.org to learn more, and follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

For more information: vettix.org

Retired US Navy Commander and Harvard MBA Begins New Career with Floor Coverings International

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Kris Piotrowski poses outside in front of her work vehicle

Kris Piotrowski’s background couldn’t have positioned her any better for her “second career.” The fact that she’s following in the legacy of her father is only icing on the cake.

The 48-year-old Piotrowski, a retired U.S. Navy Commander who holds a Harvard MBA and also had a successful stint working in Corporate America, launched operations as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Mesa, AZ serves clients throughout Mesa, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Queen Creek, Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Laveen, Litchfield Park, Tolleson, Avondale and Goodyear.

“I do think that my military experience, coupled with my leadership and business training from Corporate America, is a definite asset to my business,” said Piotrowski, a Scottsdale resident who spent four years after her military career as a Facilities and Logistics expert. “Additionally, I have more than 10 years of facilities/flooring experience and am organized and driven.” Piotrowski was further inspired to pursue small-business ownership when she recalled her father’s trade when she was a youngster. “I have always wanted to own my own business,” she said. “I grew up with a father who was a cobbler and supported his family by making and repairing shoes. When I received my MBA, I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur and it was an inspiring moment in my career.”

In Floor Coverings International, Piotrowski 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. “I was inspired to select Floor Coverings International over other franchisors based on its culture, franchisee support, initial investment, and of course, being able to set my own schedule,” Piotrowski said. “Floor Coverings International was head and shoulders above the rest.”

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 2020. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com

Fire Destroys Working Wardrobes Headquarters in Irvine, CA

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Working Wardrobes floor displays professional career attire for men and women job seekers

Non-Profit Facility Providing Work Attire and Training to over 105,000 Job Seekers since 1990 Loses Building and Donation Inventory to Fire

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (February 3, 2020): On Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 at 5:50 a.m., a fire broke out at the Working Wardrobes headquarters located at 1851 Kettering Street, Irvine, California. It was several hours before firefighters could access the building. Everything has been destroyed by this fire and we are working closely with the Orange County Fire Authority and Irvine Police Department for more details.

“We are absolutely devastated by this catastrophic loss, the heart of our operations is gone and so is 30 years of history,” said Jerri Rosen, Founder and CEO, after the fire. “We are grateful and relieved to report that no one was hurt or in the building at the time of the fire. Now our job is to get back on our feet so we can serve our clients very quickly and we aim to do just that with the help of our remarkable community.”

STATEMENT OF FACTS
● Approximately 100 firefighters were at the scene
● OCFA Public Information Officer Capt. Tony Bommarito was onsite
● No injuries were reported
● Working Wardrobes has been in this 22,000-square-foot building since 2016
● Everything has been destroyed, including:
●Donation Center: Large warehouse filled with racks, bins, and boxes filled with thousands of donations. Including jackets, pants, shirts, blouses, ties, shoes, jewelry and additional accessories. Home goods, office supplies, etc.
●Wardrobing Center filled with quality clothing and accessories for men and women in a department like setting.
●Career Center: Computer labs where clients worked to research and apply for jobs online, training rooms and IT computer lab. Plus, the VetNet team and program for veterans, SCSEP program for seniors, all client services for women, men, young adults, and all wardrobing services.
●Corporate Office: Entire operations of Working Wardrobes

We are determined to work with our employees, volunteers and the Orange County community to rebuild and continue to fulfill our purpose of helping men, women, young adults and veterans overcome difficult challenges so they can achieve the dignity of work.

NEXT STEPS FOR US
Financial donations are what we need the most to rebuild and continue to provide services to veterans, seniors, and unemployed get back into the workforce. To make a financial donation, please visit: workingwardrobes.org/donate-money/

Our friends at Goodwill have stepped up to provide temporary space for our offices, wardrobe departments and donation center in their Fitness Center at 1601 E St Andrew Pl. Santa Ana, CA 92705.

Donations can be dropped off beginning Tuesday, February 4, from 10 am to 2 pm. We are so grateful for their support and partnership. Much will change for us over the next few months as we start our journey over, but we know the strength of our friends and supporters will buoy us. We need volunteers to help get our new temporary home set up.

PLEASE NOTE: Donated clothing must be in great condition, clean and ON HANGERS.  

Please contact KathiS@workingwardrobes.org or call (714) 210-2460. We will release a list of our needs for donations soon, please contact (714) 210-2460 for more details.

MORE ABOUT WORKING WARDROBES:
Working Wardrobes is Orange County’s foremost career development nonprofit, championing on behalf of at-risk men, women, young adults, and veterans to help them achieve the Power of a Paycheck ® . The organization was founded in 1990 by CEO/Founder Jerri Rosen. This is Working Wardrobes’ 30 th anniversary year. Over that time, with the help of our Orange County community, we’ve been able to help more than 105,000 people overcome barriers to employment and achieve the Power of a Paycheck ® .

THE LAST FULL MEASURE—Coming to theaters January 24!

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The Last Full Measure movie promo poster

THE LAST FULL MEASURE tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.

During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in the bloodiest battle of the war.

Thirty-two years later, respected Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastien Stan) on a career fast-track is tasked with investigating a Congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and PJ partner on the mission (William Hurt) and his parents (Christopher Plummer & Diane Ladd).

Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris). But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to seek justice for the fallen airman.

Watch the trailer!

Directed by Todd Robinson
Written by Todd Robinson
Starring Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt with Ed Harris and Samuel L. Jackson, co-starring Peter Fonda, LisaGay Hamilton, Jeremy Irvine, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, Linus Roache, John Savage, Alison Sudol and Bradley Whitford

The True Story Of ‘1917’ Is Part Of Sam Mendes’ Family Lore

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The World War 1 movie poster promoting 1917

In Sam Mendes’ 1917, two British soldiers in World War I sprint through the hellish maze of trench warfare and across no man’s land to deliver an urgent message. It’s a film full of technical marvels set against the backdrop of a very real war, but the particulars of 1917 are based on a true story even more specific than that. It turns out that the story is also part of Mendes’ family history, though he didn’t learn about the event that inspired his film until almost 60 years after it happened.

The film follows soldiers Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) in real time after they’re tasked with reaching the front lines to tell battalions they’re walking into a German trap. If they fail, up to 1,600 men could die, including Blake’s brother. If they succeed, well… they’re still soldiers stuck in World War I — a war in which men died by the thousands to gain mere meters of land.

Mendes’ grandfather Alfred Mendes was 17 when he enlisted in the war. Though he would later become a writer and novelist, Sam didn’t hear the story of his time in the war until decades later, when Alfred was in his 70s and decided to open up about his teenage years in the war. “There was one particular story he told us of being tasked to carry a single message through no man’s land in dusk in the winter of 1916… And that stayed with me,” Mendes told NPR. “And that was the story I found I wanted to tell.” Apparently, Alfred’s small stature suited him perfectly for the dangerous task. “[Alfred] ran 5 and a half feet, and the mist used to hang at about 6 feet in no man’s land, so he wasn’t visible above the mist.”

Alfred would later write an autobiography detailing the full history of his dangerous mission. It was 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Alfred was a member of C company, which along with A, B, and D companies, were sent to the area to maintain pressure against the crumbling German front. The Allied forces wanted to do so by pushing back at the German 4th Army, but rainy weather had turned the battlefield into its own form of hell. As Alfred put it, “The Ypres Salient was a marsh of mud and a killer of men… an area into which countless shells plunged destroying whatever tree, plant, bush, or grass there was and left behind a surface of moon-like desolation, many shell craters as traps for sucking in live men and drowning them — to this sector we came in 1917.”

The change in landscape didn’t change Allied leaders’ plans at all, and all companies led an assault charge forward. It was a disaster. The expected counterattack never came and the charge failed, but worst of all, C company lost track of A, B, and D. The Battalion Advanced Report Centre needed data to plan any next moves. They sent a message: “Report on four companies urgently needed.” Alfred’s captain asked for one man to volunteer to run through the deadly battleground, make contact with each company, and return with the information. Alfred volunteered.

Continue on to The Bustle to read the complete article.

2020 Virginia International Tattoo—Stories of the Greatest Generation

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Virginia Tattoo coming in April promo poster

NORFOLK, VA. – Virginia Arts Festival has announced the 2020 dates for its 24th annual Virginia International Tattoo. The largest spectacle of music and might in the United States, the Virginia International Tattoo offers an astounding display of inspirational military music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show stopping drill team maneuvers, colorful and elegant dancers, and much more. Each year’s Tattoo is different, with new performers from across the globe, new themes of honor and patriotism, and new sights and sounds to amaze you. Our 24th annual Tattoo, set for April 30-May 3, 2020, will feature over 1,000 performers from eight different countries–don’t blink or you might miss something!

The 2020 Virginia International Tattoo promises to be one of the most moving ever, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and honor the courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. With stirring music, historic photos and video, tributes from U.S. military bands, and special appearances by veterans, we will remember and celebrate the men and women who changed the course of history, not only for the United States but for the world.

Tickets are on sale now and available at vafest.org, by phone at 757-282-2822, or in person at the Virginia Arts Festival Box Office located at 440 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA 23510.

What is the Tattoo?
Presented annually as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, the term Tattoo evolved from a European tradition dating back to the 17th century when Low Country innkeepers would cry “Doe den tap toe!” – “Turn off the taps!” as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled a return to quarters.

The Tattoos seen across the world today refers to a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands. Each Tattoo is influenced by the culture of the country they represent.

Fans of these massed spectacles of music and might flock to the world’s great Tattoos: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. But the greatest Tattoo in the United States, and rivaling the largest in the world, is the Virginia International Tattoo.

Attending the Virginia International Tattoo
When: Thursday, April 30, 7:30 pm
Friday, May 1, 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 2, 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 3, 2:30 pm
Where: Scope Arena, 201 E. Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia