Category Archives: Franchises

Get A Move On to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy; owner to form new franchise company

UPDATED — Get A Move On owner Paul Wells filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his business about a week ago, but a lot has changed since then.

Wells now plans to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy personally, because he guaranteed the loan on his office, and start a new company to franchise the business. Current employee Eric Kimler is the first franchisee.

Wells says a lot happened to lead him to this decision.

“There’s a long story behind that.”

Wells says issues started at his almost 20-year-old company in 2003 when he settled a trademark infringement lawsuit over the name of his moving company, Two Guys and A Truck, with the national company Two Men & A Truck. He changed his company’s name to Get A Move On.

“To this date we still get phone calls,” Wells says of people looking for Two Guys and A Truck.

Then, Two Men & A Truck entered the Wichita market.

“They really capitalized on our past name when they came here,” Wells says.

Another new competitor opened as well.

Wells says with new competitors, “somebody’s going to lose.”

Then the recession and housing market crash hit. Wells says sales went down about 40 percent.

“We weren’t doing so hot financially.”

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Eric Fahnestock and Dennis Turner buy Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning franchise

Eric Fahnestock, left, and David Carrillo of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning.

WICHITA — It’s been almost two years since Eric Fahnestock resigned as president of Fahnestock Heating & Air Conditioning, but he’s finally found a new line of work.

He’s purchased an Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning franchise.

His former stepmother, DeeAnne Fahnestock, now runs the HVAC company, which does business as Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC & Electric.

Since his resignation, Fahnestock has been searching for the right career fit.

“It’s been a long ride, let’s put it that way,” he says. “I’d been looking for this kind of opportunity, but they don’t always jump off the page at you.”

He was in the insurance business for four weeks “just trying it out.”

“It wasn’t going to be my thing.”

Fahnestock looked at other franchises and businesses to partner on.

“Luckily, my pastor brought me this,” he says of Eastside Community Church founding pastor Dennis Turner.

“It’s a blessing,” Fahnestock says. “It’s a testament to how far I’ve come as an individual in my walk with the Lord.”

Fahnestock lost his father, George, in 2010.

“It was tough going through losing my dad.”

He then lost his career the following year.

“It was my life for 13 years,” Fahnestock says. “It was my family’s business for 65 years. It’s kind of in my blood. But circumstances dictate that you have to make tough decisions.”

He never revealed why he felt he had to resign.

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Dan Carney’s ‘Til We Meet Again franchise opens in Phoenix this weekend

WICHITA — Most business owners like a little publicity for their new businesses, but Dan Carney isn’t most business owners.

The Pizza Hut cofounder and some partners are opening a ’Til We Meet Again franchise in Phoenix this weekend, but Carney would rather not discuss it.

Franchise founder Nathan Smith and his business partner, Traci Smith-Cone, have been consulting with Carney on their business.

“I consult with anybody that’s really interested and calls me and asks for help,” Carney says. “This is what happened with Nathan.”

He says he’s “hopefully helped him form some ideas that have been successful.”

Carney says the two disagree on how much publicity a business should have before it’s proven successful.

An ex-employee of Carney’s wanted to open the Phoenix store, and he agreed to back him.

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‘Til We Meet again obtains license to sell Vatican caskets, urns, grave markers and memorial products

WICHITA — If a business person would like to do business with the Vatican, is it as easy as calling up and asking?

Almost. At least that’s how it seemed to go for Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone of ’Til We Meet Again, the casket store at Towne West Square that’s turning into a national chain.

The day after Thanksgiving, Smith says he and Smith-Cone signed a deal with the Vatican for Vatican-licensed merchandise.

“We are the only source for retail for all Vatican caskets, urns and memorial products throughout the United States,” Smith says. “It’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Another company used to have the exclusive license, he says.

“That company that was doing that fell on some hard times and bad management and are no longer in existence,” Smith says.

When he heard that, he says he called the Vatican to inquire about the license.

“Through a lot of negotiations and talks, we thought it brought a lot of value to have that license from the Vatican,” Smith says. “It’s going to be a pretty big license for us.”

The company is in the process of working with the Vatican and several manufacturers on developing lines for caskets, urns, grave markers, jewelry and keepsakes.

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‘Til We Meet Again further franchises and encounters its first stumbling block

WICHITA — Willow Group continues to ink franchise deals for more ’Til We Meet Again stores, but the Wichita company has also experienced its first setback.

The chain’s first franchisee was to open a custom casket store in Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, Ind., in May, but Willow Group’s Nathan Smith says mall management changed its mind without giving him or local media a reason.

“Glenbrook Square officials likely sealed a casket company’s fate in Fort Wayne,” read the lead of a Journal Gazette story, which was one of several stories about the issue that appeared in local media outlets.

“It was a mess,” says Smith, who is partners in Willow Group with Traci Smith-Cone.

“Honestly, it took us by surprise,” Smith says. “We do everything we can in the beginning to make sure everything is secured.”

He says the mall took five months to approve the contract.

No one with Glenbrook could be reached for comment.

Smith says the franchisee lost about $100,000 on remodeling and other expenses when told she’d have to vacate the mall five days before opening. He says the store had a contract, but there was a clause that the mall could ask the store to leave at any time.

“We definitely worked quickly with the franchisee to minimize even more loss of funds,” Smith says. “At the time, it was a scramble.”

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Freebirds World Burrito franchisee to begin search for Wichita sites

WICHITA — A franchisee is looking to bring as many as three Freebirds World Burritos to Wichita.

Overland Park-based FB Midwest Development is the first franchisee of the chain, which is based in Texas and California. The franchise group has the rights to develop Freebirds locations in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

“We’re signed up initially for 27, and hopefully we can get more territories,” says Bryce Katz, COO and partner.

He says the restaurant is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill, with a big focus on organic items such as grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken.

Freebirds has what Katz calls “very, very fresh” burritos, burrito bowls, nachos, quesadillas, salad and seven kinds of salsa.

The group’s first restaurant opened recently in Mission, which makes the 77th Freebirds site nationally.

Katz says his group hopes to open in Wichita in 2013.

“We’re going to start looking now.”

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In the Sauce Brands looking to franchise Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria

WICHITA — When Tony Suellentrop announced the opening of Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria in NewMarket Square in 2005, he told Have You Heard? he expected to franchise the business. Now, it looks like that’s about to finally happen.

“This is probably longer than we thought,” says Suellentrop, who is director of brand management for Wichita-based In the Sauce Brands. That’s the franchisor for Gambino’s Pizza, Hero Deli and Huey’s Smokehouse BBQ.

There are 50 Gambino’s restaurants in five states, two Hero Delis and three Huey’s Smokehouses.

Those brands “took away some of our time, but now we’ve turned our focus back to Avivo, and we’re going to pursue this concept,” Suellentrop says.

“We think at this time that we are … ready to explore franchising because we think the return on investment is a good opportunity,” he says of Avivo.

He says business at the Avivo in NewMarket Square is “actually getting better each year.”

Suellentrop says he believes there’s investment money out there and that people are waiting for the right opportunities. He says his group is talking with several potential franchise groups in several areas.

So how close is a deal?

“That’s always the magic question,” Suellentrop says.

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Willow Group lands Texas-size franchise deal for 14 new ‘Til We Meet Again stores

UPDATED — On the heels of getting its first franchise in April, the Willow Group has inked a deal with an undisclosed group for 14 ’Til We Meet Again stores in Texas. All of them will be open no later than 2014.

“It’s huge,” says Nathan Smith, who is partners with Traci Smith-Cone in the venture.

The two opened the custom casket store in Towne West Square in 2010 with no plans to franchise.

That changed, though, and in April they landed their first franchise with a store in Glenbrook Square Mall in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Smith says they’ve just finalized a deal for a Milwaukee store, though the franchisee hasn’t signed a lease for mall space yet, and are close on a three-store deal in Phoenix.

Smith thinks the Texas deal will help him and Smith-Cone close other deals.

“For the folks that are out there that we’re talking to right now … those guys that are on the fence … seeing that definitely gets them off the fence quickly,” Smith says. “It helps legitimize what we’re doing.”

He says it gives other potential franchisees a sense of security to know “they’re not the first ones, and they’re not doing this by themselves.”

Smith says he and Smith-Cone have the infrastructure in place for the rapid expansion.

“That’s what is the best part about what we’re doing here and what makes this work,” he says.

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‘Til We Meet Again gets its first franchisee

UPDATED — Two years after opening ’Til We Meet Again, the custom casket store in Towne West Square, the Willow Group has its first franchisee.

The franchisee is opening a ‘Til We Meet Again in the Glenbrook Square Mall in Fort Wayne, Ind., next month.

Several more likely will follow in short order. That’s even though Willow Group partners Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone never planned to franchise.

“We said, ‘Absolutely not. We’re going to do this on our own,’” Smith-Cone says.

What changed?

“The YouTube video,” she says.

There have been a few videos about the store, one of which has been viewed almost 124,000 times on YouTube. Calls from around the country started coming from people who wanted to open similar shops. Then a January story in Entrepreneur piqued even more interest.

“We’ve been flooded with inquiries,” Smith says.

“My limited knowledge about franchising was we would lose control of those businesses,” Smith-Cone says. “For two type-A personalities to do that, that was very tough.”

They realized they didn’t have much choice, Smith says.

“Once it got out there, to prevent anyone else from doing what we were doing, we had to move quickly,” he says. To secure exclusive deals with manufacturers, who create all kinds of unique caskets and urns, they needed to open more stores than they could afford to do on their own.

“Our fear was more of other people starting their own and creating competition for what we wanted to do,” Smith says. “Before we didn’t have that buying power.”

Now they do, but it hasn’t been easy.

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