Special forces veteran Ray Omar has gone from owning one Dunkin' Donuts to nine, and following in his dad's footsteps, has brought his family into the business.
Franchisees come from all walks of life, and oftentimes, their success is determined by the motivations, values and experiences that have shaped their life before they make the leap to becoming a small-business owner. You might say some have entrepreneurship in their blood. Ray Omar, a successful Dunkin' Donuts franchisee who is expanding from Maryland into Washington, D.C. and Tennessee, was just a small kid in Queens when he started learning about entrepreneurship. Ray's dad owned a Pop's Fried Chicken in the Bronx and later a coffee and baked goods distribution company in Manhattan. "As a kid, I was heavily influenced and inspired by my dad, helping out where I could throughout high school and getting a first hand look at what it took to run a business," recalls Omar. He adds that his "dad was great in that he never pressured me to join the family business, and let me pursue my own interests, which were to become a military officer."
Omar's journey indeed didn't lead him directly to business and franchising, but instead to joining the U.S. Army after graduating from college. He joined the elite 5th Special Forces Group, becoming a Signal Detachment Commander. Over his six years in the service, Omar acquired a skillset that not only translates well to entrepreneurship, but in fact one that can largely be credited for his success. "I believe that veterans are uniquely qualified to become franchisees," Omar says, explaining that the Army teaches skills like leadership, responsibility, teamwork, communication and commitment to the cause. "A lot of the veterans coming out now, especially those who have seen combat, are really one step ahead of their peers who don't have that experience." Omar entered the world of franchising in 2008, a risky time at the height of the Great Recession. He chose Dunkin' Donuts because it was a staple from his childhood in Queens, and the quick service industry and coffee business would lead him in his father's footsteps. "If I was going to get into franchising, I needed to get into a brand that I really believed in and loved the product, and Dunkin' was one of those,"...