How Military Veteran Partners is Generating More Veteran Employment Opportunities
April 29, 2019
Around 60 percent of veteran-owned businesses have experienced at least one financial shortfall, according to a recent report on veteran entrepreneurs. Beyond that, 75 percent of veteran entrepreneurs who were surveyed said that a lack of social capital — networks, mentors and other experts — was their biggest challenge to starting and growing their business.
Veterans’ access to traditional and social capital is the main issue the team at Malvern-based Military Veteran Partners set out to address a year and a half ago.
MVP works with organizations in Pennsylvania and across the country to change the conversation around veteran entrepreneurship and employment opportunities. It challenges private and public companies to rethink, and even prioritize veteran hiring practices — both for the benefit of the veterans looking for long-term jobs in the civilian workforce and for the bottom lines of those businesses.
“Veterans are some of the most qualified business owners and employees. They’ve endured rigorous training and have had to consistently perform at the highest levels, often in the most adverse conditions, but they also have inherent qualities like endurance, resiliency, the ability to think critically and dedication to their work and team,” said Steve Cloetingh, CEO of Military Veteran Partners. “More than that, veterans have the desire to serve beyond their military careers with the same values of respect, integrity and trust. They show up on time, execute tasks with military precision, and seek out ways to give back to their community, colleagues, and other veterans. MVP is tapping into that powerful mindset to improve the livelihoods of veterans and simultaneously benefit companies’ bottom lines and the American economy.”
So how do you change the conversation to help businesses focus on hiring veterans?
“It’s an awareness issue. Employers may not understand the skills and character veterans bring to any organization, or their potential to positively disrupt industries, particularly those that are service-based,” said Cloetingh. “Beyond changing the perspective of business owners, we’re leading by example and working to shift the dynamic so that veterans are seen as vital contributors to a skilled workforce, rather than just a quota to hit.”
To achieve these goals, MVP focuses on a combination of four distinct pillars: capital, people, mentoring and networking.
Starting with capital, MVP is investing $20 million in organizations committed to veteran values and veteran hiring — organizations looking to start businesses as well as those looking to grow and expand.
The people pillar is geared toward investing in skills and training beyond just traditional capital investments. MVP supports its partners by developing and applying their talents in ways that positively impact the economy, such as social selling, money management, entrepreneurship, how to look for partnerships and forge relationships with community organizations, and more.
MVP also provides opportunities for its partners to connect with world-class advisors who not only have business expertise but who also have connections to the military. They include Ralph Galati, an Air Force veteran and former Prisoner of War; Matt Eversmann, the Army veteran who was portrayed in the film Black Hawk Down; Mark Dambly, president of Pennrose and chairman of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees; Larry Liss, an Army veteran and director of Veterans Business Services at Gap International; Tom Lynch, former Rear Admiral of the Navy and current chairman of the Board for NewDay USA; Michael Purcell, a finance expert with extensive experience in financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, and capital sourcing; Bill Yoh, staffing industry expert and chairman of Yoh and co-owner of Day & Zimmermann; and Walter Buckley, prominent business expert and chairman of Actua Corporation.
These advisors guide MVP’s partners to make strategic decisions, and actively generate new business opportunities that make it possible to hire more veterans across the country. This effectively helps the partners advance their business goals and grow their organizations.
MVP’s final pillar, networking, represents its commitment to fostering relationships with people and organizations that are passionate about empowering veterans and their family members. This support goes beyond connecting partners with mentors and advisors, and takes the form of creating strategic partnerships with Pennsylvania-based and national organizations — like Veterans Advantage — and encouraging alliances with local businesses.
Putting these four pillars into practice, one of MVP’s first ventures is JDog Junk Removal & Hauling (JDog), a Berwyn-based junk removal franchise that awards franchise agreements to veterans and their family members. In Pennsylvania alone, there are almost 30 JDog franchises stretching from Harrisburg to Hanover to Berwick, and all are owned by veterans and military family members.
Take the JDog Atlantic team, for example. Of the owners, one is a veteran and two are family members of veterans. Their crew of veterans and family members is spread throughout the Philadelphia region, including West Philadelphia, the Main Line, Bucks County, Chester County and Bensalem.
MVP is not only collaborating with JDog Atlantic (and all of its 11 entrepreneurial partners) to invest in advancing technology and operational systems, but it’s also training the leadership and sales teams. MVP’s team of advisors is also lending its varied experience to help JDog Atlantic adapt to, and overcome, marketplace challenges.
“We’ve always believed the skills, habits and ideals acquired through military training are transferable, valuable and disruptive in the best way, particularly in a services business,” said Mike McNulty, president of JDog Atlantic. “With MVP as a partner, we’re able to create a successful business rooted in veteran values that serves our customers, the community, and each other while achieving profitable results. Our foundation in Philadelphia has allowed us to expand throughout the region — including nine territories between Pennsylvania and Maryland — and support the 17 veterans and six military family members on staff, and MVP will help us make an even bigger impact.”
Both MVP and JDog have strong roots in Pennsylvania, which they hope will serve as a model for other states across the country to prioritize veteran employment and business ownership opportunities for our heroes and their families.
A stronger workforce creates stable businesses, which makes for a healthier economy and a better commonwealth.
MVP is planning to expand into other business lines and is always looking for partners to support its mission. For more information about Military Veteran Partners and how to get involved, visit www.militaryveteranpartners.com.