Veterans Jason Bloomquist, Cory Jennings, James Selleh, Jay Starks and Chuck Wellman have won free CruiseOne/Dream Vacation franchises as part of Operation Vetrepreneur.
*This story originally appeared on www.atourfranchise.org, a website highlighting the positive impact of franchising on communities around the country.
More and more American businesses are realizing that veterans are some of the most talented and sought-after employees out there, with highly transferrable skills, knowledge and discipline. Franchises are some of the leading employers of veterans, with companies like CruiseOne/Dream Vacations having over 30 percent of its units owned by veterans or active-duty spouses. CruiseOne knows a good thing when they see it, and they’ve doubled down on veterans with an annual competition that sees the five veteran winners awarded their own home franchise.
Now in its fifth year, the CruiseOne “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” just wrapped up and announced the five winners. The competition has involved more than 1,300 veteran applicants competing across all five branches of the U.S. armed services over the past five years, with winners representing the top two percent of applicants. The process is rigorous, involving the submission of a business plan, a video essay and phone interviews. The franchises awarded to the winners over the past five years are valued at more than $317,000, but CruiseOne knows that these prizes are not a giveaway but an investment.
Veterans have proven to be natural and successful franchisees, and many companies are looking to increase their share of veteran-owned units. “There are so many parallels between the military and franchising that recruiting and supporting military veterans has become a cornerstone of who we are and what we do; it is shaping the future of our organization,” said Tim Courtney, CFE, Vice President of Franchise Development and Ambassador of Veteran Affairs for CruiseOne/Dream Vacations. “We recognize that military veterans are driven by the core values and disciplines they learned in the military and it is these values and disciplines that drive them to succeed.”
This year’s winners are U.S. Air Force Veteran Jason Bloomquist of Maple Shade, N.J.; U.S. Navy Veteran Cory Jennings of Midland, Texas; Air Force Veteran James Selleh of Brentwood, Tenn.; Air Force Veteran Jay Starks of Sandy, Utah; and Air Force Veteran Chuck Wellman of Beaverton, Ore. CruiseOne/Dream Vacations hosted an awards ceremony in Fort Lauderdale attended by local business leaders and government officials, and is sending each of the winners to a weeklong training course at its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
With such a qualified field of applicants, winning a competition like this requires not just the right mind set and skills, but also a passion for the field of travel and often an equally dedicated spouse by your side, as we found out from one of this year’s winners, Cory Jennings. “My wife and I have wanted to own our own business for around the last five years and after much discussion, decided to pursue a Dream Vacations franchise. This industry combines our love of travel and the ability to create our own path. We get to flex our entrepreneurial spirit in a fun and exciting business.”
The world of franchising is full of veteran success stories, across the spectrum, with franchisors, franchisees and employees each playing a role. CruiseOne actively encourages veteran franchisees with 20 percent off the initial franchise fee and the free franchise giveaways during its annual contest highlight the company’s commitment to veterans. IFA has been a champion of bringing the talent of military veterans to the franchise community through the VetFran initiative. Now counting over 650 franchise members that voluntarily offer financial incentives and discounts to veterans, VetFran continues to bring together talent and opportunity.