The importance of giving back: a franchise founder and CEO reflects on fulfilling experiences that feed the mind and soul as the Titus Franchising Center becomes a reality.

Author:Titus, Ray

I learned the value of hard work at my father's knee, as they say. My dad was Roy Titus, the founder of Minuteman Press. I was brought up working hard for the family business, including during summers while in school.

Although he was a total entrepreneur, always busy thinking of new ideas and programs to implement, my father found time to put much of himself into volunteer coaching basketball and baseball for me, my brothers and friends. I believe it not only served his pride to watch his sons excel in sports, but it also gave him something that even the business couldn't. He was "giving back" and in a way where he could see, touch and feel the reward of helping not only his own kids but others he coached as well. Some of those kids he coached grew up and eventually worked in the company.

In 1986, my father and I started Signarama. Having worked for many years in the printing industry, we were familiar with the signage industry and realized the need for a more efficient way to purchase signage. By taking signage from the industrial facilities and warehouses to a clean, easily accessible retail space, we instantly made the task of sign buying a much easier and more pleasant experience. The first store in Farmingdale, N.Y., became an instant success. We opened our second location in North Palm Beach, Fla. less than a year later, and started franchising.


By then I was married with sons of my own. My wife, Andrea, and I eventually had three boys, A.J., Austin and Andrew. Andrea's father, Jim (J.J.) Prendamano came to work with us. He was a wonderful, giving man active in his church and the community and a great influence not only on me but on all of us in the company at the time.

J.J. ended up working at United Franchise Group, now our parent company, for 27 years and passed away in 2015. During a serious illness he shared with me how he wanted to leave a legacy of some kind. J.J. said he wanted to show something of significance.

I thought long and hard about what that could be for him. My oldest son A.J. had attended Palm Beach Atlantic University and did very well there including serving as President of the Student Government in his last two years.

It came to me then: J.J.'s legacy could be a mentor program and a scholarship/business plan contest held each year at Palm Beach Atlantic University called "J.J.'s Entrepreneurs." The authors of the two best business plans submitted each receive $15,000 to get...

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