In a post last September, I wrote about how Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. founder Michael Ilitch was awarded the highest tribute given to a private citizen by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. This veteran’s day, I’m happy to report that the award-winning program continues to get rave reviews from those who matter most: The honorably discharged veterans who are achieving their dreams of business ownership as Little Caesars’ franchise owners.
The program is so successful for both the franchisor and franchisees that Little Caesar president David Scrivano recently announced that they would be adding additional benefits and extending the program at least another two years.
What the Little Caesars Veterans Program Provides
The Little Caesars Veterans Program provides franchise opportunities to veterans as they transition to civilian life or seek a career change. It offers honorably discharged service-disabled veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees a benefit of up to approximately $68,000. The benefit for honorably discharged non-service-disabled veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees has now increased from $10,000 to up to approximately $20,000.
The program helps address the serious lack of opportunity that can face the returning veteran. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non-partisan advocacy group, the jobless rate among its 100,000 members is in the double digits. (With no sign of relief, says its executive director.) And, notes the Department of Labor, only 82 percent of disabled Iraq and Afghanistan vets are active jobholders or job seekers compared with 91 percent of veterans without a disability.
Little Caesars Veterans Program: A Win-Win-Win Growth Initiative
The Little Caesars Veterans Program is designed to provide a strong win-win-win situation for all involved. It creates income opportunities for disabled and non-disabled veterans. It creates new jobs in the communities in which they live. And it provides the opportunity for Little Caesars to grow with a group of franchisees highly valued by franchisors for their discipline and ability to follow systems and procedures.
The program was launched in 2006 with the intent to review the level of interest and results after two years. Nearly three times the expected number of veterans are participating in the program. Currently, 45 veterans collectively are applying more than $1.25 million in credits and benefits to help them grow their Little Caesars businesses. To date, 2,400 inquires have been made about the program.
Jesse Ortega, Little Caesars franchise owner, Sheboygan, Wisc.
Major Jesse Ortega recently opened his Little Caesars at 2825 N.15th St. in Sheboygan, Wisc.
“I have always wanted to go into business for myself, and the Little Caesars Veterans Program has helped me achieve that goal,” Ortega said. “Little Caesars is growing and it is deeply committed to providing business opportunities for veterans. I’m proud to be a part of this organization.”
Ortega enlisted in the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, and after completing his service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology from Purdue University. He then served as a commissioned officer with the United States Marine Corps for 13 years as a helicopter aircraft commander on CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. While in the Marines, he earned the Air Medal (with strike/flight numeral 2) for combat action over Iraq in 2003. After separating from the Marines, Ortega joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard, where he still serves as a traditional guardsman, flying KC-135R Stratotankers out of General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.
Steve Yoho, Little Caesars franchise owner, Jacksonville, North Carolina
“In these difficult economic times, I realized that it was an opportune time to begin a new career and gain independence as a business owner,” said Yoho. “Combining the skills I learned in the military with the tools, knowledge and ongoing training and support from Little Caesars, I am prepared to grow my pizza restaurant in southeast North Carolina.”
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Yoho was in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992. He was based out of Camp Lejeune and served as a Small Arms Repairman and Primary Marksmanship Instructor during three separate military operations – Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Sharp Edge (Liberia) and Operation Desert Storm (Iraq). Upon being honorably discharged, Yoho worked in Detroit’s automotive engineering field for 16 years.
Richard Gubish, Little Caesars franchise owner, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
“With the nation experiencing challenging economic times, I realized that it was the perfect time for me to begin a new career and go into business for myself,” added Gubish. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a growing company, provide a great value to my customers and use the leadership skills I learned in the military to grow my new pizza business.”
Joining the United States Army immediately after high school, Gubish served from 1986 to 1990. He transitioned into civilian life as a city bus driver and a small retail business operator in Bethlehem. Gubish learned about the Little Caesars Veteran Program through his brother, a former manager of a Little Caesars restaurant.
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