Kelly and I have been married for 15 years and have two children Christian (14) and Sydney (13). I grew up in a military family so we traveled all over the world in my early life. My dad retired in Jacksonville in the mid ’70s. I have called Jacksonville home ever since. I graduated from the University of North Florida with a business degree and an MBA from Jacksonville University. Kelly is from Rockford, IL., which is outside of Chicago. She relocated to Jacksonville in the early ’90s after graduating from college at Southern Illinois University. She came to Jacksonville to live with her brother and get out of the cold.
Both Kelly and I have been in the higher education finance business for most of our adult lives. Both of us worked for banks, loan servicing companies, higher education software firm, and a University. I owned a student loan company for 8 years until regulatory changes came from a new government administration, which resulted in its closure.
We decided that we wanted to do something here in Jacksonville. I always traveled and it was getting old. If I wanted to stay in the industry it would require continued travel or relocation. Even though we lived here, we didn’t get to spend much time here. We wanted that to change. I knew we didn’t want to start another company from scratch so a franchise was of interest. We worked through a franchise broker to narrow our scope and Office Evolution was just what we were looking for in a business. It was in an interesting, fast-growing market. The subscription model made sense to us. It was employee light. It allowed us to be more involved in the community. It allowed us to work with small businesses and business owners.
We currently have one location that we opened about 1.5 years ago near the St Johns Town Center. This is where all the activity is in Jacksonville. We are in the process of building out our second location that is scheduled to open in a fast-growing area called Bartram in March 2020. What we enjoy most about owning and running Office Evolution is that we get to work with great members. You get to truly know them, their businesses and their dreams. It’s also great when you can create a community that allows not only for a great working environment but also a place where members can work together to grow their businesses. It’s great to see them refer business to each other.
Another part that we enjoy is being involved in the community. We invest a lot of time with the JaxChamber and other associations in town. Jacksonville has been growing its startup ecosystem and it’s been great to be a part of that.
The other part we enjoy is the initial phase of getting the location off the ground. From looking for a location, build-out phase to the grand opening. It’s exciting to create something tangible that people can really use.
For an owner of Office Evolution, the key to success is the location. Make sure you understand your market and where it’s going. Take the time to find the right location that meets all or most of the Office Evolution requirements. There are a lot of things to do to be a successful Office Evolution owner, but it all starts with the right location.
My advice to other entrepreneurs would be as follows:
- Start with the end in mind. Decide where you want to be in the end and work backward.
- Think big and don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t limit yourself or think you can’t do it and don’t be afraid to make the jump. As Nike says, Just do it!
- Make decisions. Right or wrong, make a decision. You can’t move forward without making choices. I see too many people overthink things and never pull the trigger. If you make the wrong choice, fix it and move forward.
We spend most of our spare time with our kids. During the week, driving them around and chilling with them on the weekends. We love to travel and do so whenever we can. We also both love to hit the gym, as a good sweat allows us to stay in shape, have some ‘me’ time and clear our heads.