Why Franchising is the Best Business Opportunity for Veterans

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Storm Guard Franchisee, Doug Toler, Breaks Down Why Military Veterans Excel in the Franchising Industry

Doug Toler, a United States Military Veteran turned Storm Guard franchisee, shares his story and the valuable lessons that he learned while in service that have helped him to succeed within the franchise industry. Toler served in the first Gulf War before returning home and now owns and operates the largest Storm Guard franchise on the east coast.


My Credentials

Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to join the military and serve my country. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C. My parents were involved with the government so I was constantly surrounded by and involved in conversations about our country. Wanting to branch out in terms of my career path, I looked elsewhere to try and make a difference within my community while also following in my parents’ footsteps. By the time I made it to high school, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to join the military. I decided to join the ROTC program offered as an elective class for the last two years of high school. During my senior year, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps to be one of the “Few and Proud”. My mother was less inclined, but with some encouragement and a blessing from my father we agreed I would try to become a Marine. In speaking with my recruiter, the Harrier program looked amazingly cool. I was eager to join the Marine Corps, and one day work with these exceptional aircraft. Six months later, they paused the program so I explored other options with the recruiter. After a long conversation, we came across the “LAV” Light Armored Vehicle. The promotional videos immediately sparked my interest and I knew that if flying harriers was no longer an option, this was my new path for my service. The recruiter expressed that they were starting a Light Armored Infantry Company at USMC Quantico Base, located in Virginia. I was ecstatic because the base was close to home and I knew that this was my purpose. After I graduated high school, I went to boot camp in Paris Island SC. I went from Bootcamp to an Army base in Rural Maryland where the LAV training would begin. Upon completing my training, I was stationed at Quantico where I continued to learn everything from important leadership skills, maintenance on vehicles, and the will to never quit. On December 25th 1990, I was deployed to the Gulf War. The month leading up to and during battle is truly where I learned the leadership skills and devotion that I have today. When I went to the Gulf War, our captain was a true leader. He knew how to command a group of Marines with both heart and strength. His selfless attitude and Lead by example to others while under major stress inspired me to adopt a similar leadership style in my own ventures. Once the first Gulf War was over, I knew that the skills I learned while in the military would be applicable to a future career.




What Led me to Franchising

After serving in the military, I started working for large corporations in their transportation sector. After searching for the right fit, I got a job at Coca-Cola, working my way up from route sales into sales management. Several years later, I decided to leave and wound up at their competitor, Pepsi. At Pepsi, I also worked my way up from sales management to become an Operations manager.  I liked the work and fast pace but it was the fact that I was not able to spend as much time with my family that began to take a toll on me. After seven years, I decided to leave and join Pepperidge Farm. I stayed there for 13 years until I grew tired of corporate America and was introduced to franchising. What intrigued me about franchising was that I didn’t have to recreate a business model or plan of success because Storm Guard already had a proven model. I had always been good at working with my hands and I wanted to be involved in a company that gives back to the community. I did some research and found Storm Guard, an innovative and community-driven roofing and construction brand. I fell in love with the company and the exceptional service that they provide. At Storm Guard, they made it a point of emphasis that they are committed to helping their local community and their employees which was important to me. I excitedly started this new chapter of my life and decided to franchise my own Storm Guard location in my home region of Northern Virginia, becoming the first Storm Guard franchisee.

Military Skills Help Veterans Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic

The skills that I have learned throughout my military service have been incredibly helpful to my new career as a small business owner. I was able to learn valuable leadership skills that have helped me to put together a team that I can trust to provide nothing short of excellence every day. Those skills were truly put to the test in the last two years. If it wasn’t for the lessons, I learned in the military such as getting up and working harder every time you get knocked down, I would not have overcome the challenges that the pandemic presented. We have developed a family here at Storm Guard and I am so happy with the work that we do throughout our community.

What Makes Veterans Well-Suited for Franchising

Military veterans are well-suited for franchising because we are all trained to constantly think strategically and be resilient in times of trouble. For all servicemen and women, being away from home in a dangerous place can be daunting. During my time in the military, there were times when we would get beat down, but we had to stay positive, develop a plan, and come out stronger. All of these attributes can be applied to franchising. There are going to be tough times running a business and sometimes certain circumstances are out of your control. Every service member that I have had the pleasure of meeting is more than qualified to overcome these obstacles. We have learned what it takes to succeed in the harshest conditions through resiliency and strategic planning and can apply these characteristics to the franchising space.

Advice for Military Veterans Looking to Transition into the Franchising Industry

My advice for veterans looking to get involved with the franchising industry would be to do your research and find a company that aligns with your values. One resource that I recommend would be Franchising for Heroes, a newly formed organization with the goal of helping servicemen, women, and first responders find jobs and break into the world of business ownership. Take your exit from the military as a fresh start. The skills and unique experiences that you have learned and gone through can open up doors that you may have never thought were possible.



Doug Toler, a United States Military Veteran turned Storm Guard franchisee, shares his story and the valuable lessons that he learned while in service that have helped him to succeed within the franchise industry. Toler served in the first Gulf War before returning home and now owns and operates the largest Storm Guard franchise on the east coast.