- Associated Press - Saturday, November 26, 2016

LOVES PARK, Ill. (AP) - When Bob Christensen was drafted into the Army during the height of the Vietnam War, he thought for sure he would be shipped to the jungles of Vietnam.

Instead, the Freeport resident was funneled into a non-combat role in the U.S.: preventative medicine. His mission? Protect the troops at home from a host of nasty ailments.

In that role, Christensen, now 69, worked inspecting mess halls and handled mosquito abatement. He served his tour from 1969 to 1971 at Fort Benning in Georgia and in Tacoma, Washington.

After his stint in the Army, he wanted to go into public health, but science just wasn’t his “forte.” He earned a master’s degree in business administration and became an entrepreneur, operating a small fastener distribution company, Partners in Maintenance in Freeport.

He didn’t consider branching out into the moving business until one of his two sons needed to relocate for his wife’s new job. Son Kevin used Two Men and a Truck when they made the move 11 years ago, Christensen said, and mentioned the company as a business opportunity.

“He said we ought to think about that business,” Christensen said. “So I looked into it. It seemed like a good thing to do.”

He launched his Two Men and a Truck franchise in Loves Park about nine years ago. He and his sons now own that location and franchises in Peoria and Davenport, Iowa.

Because he’s a veteran, Christensen hires fellow vets to work at his three businesses. Veterans have the strength and skills to handle the workload at Two Men and a Truck, he said.

“They show up on time. They’re eager to work. And most important, they’ve learned team building,” Christensen said. “In the Army you learn to work as a team. It’s not just you. All those characteristics are ideal for us.”

He and his sons employ nearly 80 people. Seven or eight are veterans, with four serving in the National Guard.

Veterans are a natural fit because they are trained to be problem-solvers, he said, and some are accustomed to being leaders.

“You’ve got to learn how to control people and manage them without resorting to pointing a gun at them,” Christensen said, chuckling.

Noelle Burak, franchise development manager for Two Men and a Truck in Lansing, Michigan, said the company is focused on hiring veterans this year, now that the military is downsizing.

“We love veterans,” she said. “They’re very good at following processes and procedures. You teach them what the process is and they follow it. We want to find consistency in the franchise.”

The company, which operates in 40 states and four countries, offers veterans a 10 percent discount off the $50,000 franchise fee. Veterans must provide honorable discharge paperwork to qualify for the discount. Currently, 16 franchise owners are veterans, Burak said.

The company has partnered with VetFran, an initiative of the International Franchise Association. It provides training for veterans on how to create a budget and build a business plan, Burak said.

The company also works with VetToCEO, she said, which is a nonprofit organization that provides a seven-week program to franchisees detailing how to operate a business.

Two Men and a Truck also recruits on military bases.

That wasn’t the case when Christensen started with the company. There were no incentives for veterans to become franchise owners at that time, he said.

Two-thirds of company managers began working on trucks, Christensen said, and one-third of franchise owners first worked on the trucks.

“We’re always, always, always looking for good people,” he said.

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Source: https://bit.ly/2fJlOMO

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Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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