- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Veteran Finds Profits with Pirtek Franchise

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

Share |

Article Sponsored by: Pirtek

Return to September/October 2014 Issue


Veteran Finds Profits with Pirtek Franchise

Selling hydraulic and pneumatic hoses to businesses wasn’t even on Jim Lager’s radar.


The Army veteran, who exited in 1992 as a Specialist, was successful already as the owner of five Snap-on Tools franchise operations in Dallas, TX. But in 2010, he segued to a different franchise - Pirtek. The company boasts nearly 400 units in 23 countries around the world and has more than 30 years of experience in the hydraulic and pneumatic hose-replacement space.


“I drug my feet for about six months before making the switch,” Lager says. “It doesn’t jump out at you, because it’s not McDonald’s. And at the time, it was 2010. Banks weren’t lending back then,” he recalls. “I had a challenge there. I had to mortgage Snap-on to get into Pirtek. It was a matter of holding on to my safety net. It was a little bit scary.”


But things took off. Lager did more than a million dollars in revenue his first year out and $2 million the second year. Today, Lager owns two Pirtek franchises and is in the process of building his third.


Lager cautions that his results are uncommon; usually new franchisees in the Pirtek system make about $300,000 to $400,000 the first year. That said, military veterans who qualify would do well to start their foray into franchising with Pirtek because of profit potential, he says.


“It’s an amazing first franchise for a veteran,” he says.


Veteran Finds Profits with Pirtek FranchiseHere are a few more things Lager suggests about getting your start, whether it’s Pirtek or another operation:


1. Believe in the product and believe the service you can provide. “I believe I’m giving my customers a value, even if I’m charging them more, because I’m selling the customer a service,” Lager says. “I certainly had no dream of selling hydraulic hoses. But I feel like I’m serving my customers. You can’t buy my customer service anywhere.”


2. Invest in yourself before you invest in a franchise. “Owning a business is not a cheap investment,” Lager says. So he went for his college degree first, and then he invested in Snap-on Tools Once he had a strong business footing, he was able to take off with Pirtek years later. He hit higher profit margins much faster than other new franchisees within the corporation. Transitioning service members may also be able to learn business basics with a program such as “Boots to Business” (


3. Investigate financing options if you don’t have the cash. “When you come out of the military, very few people are wealthy. Not just anyone can come out and throw themselves into a franchise,” Lager says, adding that he was in that situation, too. “What a lot of franchises are doing is providing financing in-house. They have their own finance company so that it can be a relatively cheap investment for you initially.” And check to see whether the franchisor is a participant in the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, which may offer even more discounts to veterans in franchise fees.


4. If you’re a born salesperson, you’ll go far. “Sales are in my blood,” Lager says. “If I’m trying to sell you something, you won’t feel like I tried to sell you something. You’re going to love me, because I will become your friend first. I won’t sell something I don’t believe in.”


Pirtek has a business-to-business sales model, which can be a more complex transaction but with a higher revenue volume per sale, because you’re selling to corporations and not individuals. However, applying Lager’s approach is effective, no matter what type of franchise you choose, he says. “Business don’t necessarily have to buy hydraulic hoses from Pirtek, but we build relationships and give them reasons to like our service better,” he says.


Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.


Return to September/October 2014 Issue