5 Companies You Didn’t Know Were Veteran-Operated
Years spent in military training and combat deliver skills that no classroom can offer. Hard work, dedication, teamwork, motivation, innovation, and perseverance on the battlefield mean more than just a good grade. Rather, they can mean the difference between life and death.
It’s no surprise, then, that some of today’s most well known companies are actually owned or operated by U.S. veterans who put their military experiences to good use in the business world. Here are five companies you may not know are being guided by U.S. veterans.
The TRX System, also known as Total Resistance eXercise, is a specialized form of suspension training that has taken the exercise world by storm. Using a system of straps, connectors, and pulleys, this easily portable system uses body weight exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability simultaneously. Founder Randy Hetrick was a Navy SEAL for 14 years and developed the TRX system while stationed in Southeast Asia. Looking for a different method of training rather than the generic push-ups, he used familiar products (a jiu-jitsu belt and parachute webbing) to create the first version of the TRX Suspension Trainer. TRX is today fully integrated into the PT of all four branches of the US military, and can be found in the locker rooms of professional athletes, teams, and Olympians.
Famous for its delicious “Slurpee” partially frozen beverage served in the iconic Big Gulp cup, 7-Eleven is an international chain of convenience stores that operates, franchises, and licenses more than 56,600 stores in 18 countries. Its CEO and president, Joe DePinto, has been heading up the corporation since 2005, and received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He went on to serve five years as an Army field artillery officer before earning his master of business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and entering the business world. In 2015, the company awarded three franchise fee-free 7-Eleven stores to U.S. military veterans as part of its “7-Eleven’s Operation: Take Command” campaign.
The billion-dollar courier service, FedEx, was founded and is led by Marine Corps veteran Frederick Smith. While attending Yale, Smith wrote a paper outlining an overnight delivery company that could thrive in the computer age. He received a low grade due to lack of feasibility. This paper would go on to be a framework for his multinational courier delivery services company that today is worth more than $3.7 billion. After graduating from college, Smith was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for three years as a platoon leader and a forward air controller (FAC), flying in the back seat of the OV-10. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying over 200 combat missions, and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain, having received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts. While in the military, Smith carefully observed the procurement and delivery procedures, fine-tuning his dream for his own overnight delivery service in the civilian world.
Johnson & Johnson
Founded in 1886, you most likely have several products in your home from the Johnson & Johnson family, including medical devices, pharmaceutical items, and consumer packaged goods. The corporation has operations in more than 57 countries and its products include well-known names like Band-Aid, Tylenol, Johnson's baby products, Neutrogena, Acuvue contact lenses, and more. Since 2012, Alex Gorsky has been at the helm of the multinational FORTUNE 500 company, helping it reach a revenue of more than $70 billion. Gorsky graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, then spent six years in the Army. He finished his military career with the rank of Captain and earned the Ranger tab and Airborne wings, having served in Europe, the U.S., and Panama. In 1996, he obtained a master's in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Stuart Parker is CEO of USAA, one of America's leading financial services companies. But before his time in corporate America, he spent 10 years in the Air Force, flying combat missions during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Upon receiving his wings, Stuart served as a flight instructor. He continues to stay close to his military heritage by serving as a lifetime member of the Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. With more than 11 million members, USAA has been helping military families since 1922 with financial products and services – such as banking, investing, and insurance. USAA was founded by a group of Army officers in an effort to find mutual self-insurance when they were unable to secure auto insurance because of the perception that they, as military officers, were a high-risk group.
Written by Megan Hammons