Farm Stores Franchising has announced the formation of an internal committee of veterans focused on the recruitment of new veterans into its family of franchisees and area developers.
The company specializes in the development of drive-thru neighborhood markets as a network of business owners and has been a favorite of Floridians for generations since the brand’s founding in 1957. Same store sales and new store development enjoyed an enormous boost in 2020 as consumers shifted to contactless shopping, and the company is now developing new stores in 12 states from Arizona to Florida and the northeast.
The veterans committee within the company will be led by Michael “Mike” D. Schmitz, former mayor of Dothan, Alabama, and the current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for southern Alabama. Mr. Schmitz is now also the Area Representative for Farm Stores Franchising to the state of Alabama, a role in which he is focused on giving back to veterans in the state and helping them get on the road to entrepreneurial success that he has enjoyed for many decades as the founder of the Mike Schmitz Automotive Group of Dothan, Alabama, among many other successful business ventures he and his wife Sandy have undertaken in their 44 years together.
“Along with four brothers and a father who all served in the military, I have seen the challenges that they and their families faced as they dedicated their lives to serving our country and after their active duties ended. Sandy and I decided the Farm Stores concept was a fantastic vehicle for veterans to get on a new path into business ownership while serving their local communities in a really unique business and franchise model. The brand is dedicated to localizing the way it does business and giving its franchisees a level of input that you just don’t find in many franchise models. We’re excited to be a part of it and delighted at the company’s commitment to veterans in all the markets it is developing.”
In addition to volunteer positions advocating for the United States Army, he has also committed philanthropic efforts to enhancing and honoring the lives of veterans. It was this that brought Mike to the Farm Stores opportunity and convinced him to undertake the role of Farm Stores Area Representative for the state of Alabama.
“It’s a great small business to get into, focused on serving neighborhoods, and it grew tremendously during the pandemic. You didn’t see that in a lot of small businesses last year. Sandy and I decided we needed to bring some stores to Dothan, and I want to make it easy for veterans to get into the system with us in Alabama. Farm Stores has committed to the idea nationally and is offering discounts for veterans and the support of the internal veterans committee.”
Leading national efforts to recruit veterans for Farm Stores is Ed Latour, the company’s advisor in franchising for veterans. Ed served in the Navy as a Rescue Swimmer (SAR) for 6 years and has enjoyed a career in event marketing and promotion for the past 20 years. He joined the Farm Stores family in 2020 to help veterans explore the opportunity of becoming business owners with Farm Stores.
“We’re here to identify good partners who are net contributors to their communities and the brand. We’re not selling, we’re recruiting.” he explains. “We’re growing as fast as we can find the right individuals to commit to making this America’s neighborhood market and become our partners. The drive-thru model and the way we position ourselves in the consumer cycle is unique and skyrocketing right now. Several areas in Texas, Florida, and Georgia are completely sold out. Everybody loves having the bakery, coffee, and groceries available in their neighborhood as a drive-thru. It just works across so many demographics and markets.”
The other members of the veterans committee are the husband-and-wife team of Livia and Carlos Almandos in Tucson, Arizona, and Nick Palumbo in Long Island, New York.
Livia is a 22 year veteran currently serving in the Arizona Air National Guard. Carlos just retired in May, also with 22 years of service. They have an extensive background in the culinary and hospitality industry, and are raising two young children in Tucson, where they are developing Arizona’s first Farm Stores locations.
Nick Palumbo is a Lieutenant Command in the US Navy, currently serving as a Strategic Sealift Officer in the Reserves. Nick’s background as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and as an entrepreneur with his e-commerce business. Nick is a native Long Island resident and has fond memories of visiting a similar chain of drive-thru stores as a child and hopes to provide an improved experience to the next generation on the island. Nick also operates a Farm Stores with his business partner Shane. Nick is married with four children, which keeps him busy, but also gives him first-hand knowledge on how to make his store as convenient to families and serve the local community.
Together, the Farm Stores Veterans Committee’s mission is to assist veterans exploring the opportunity of becoming partners with Farm Stores in their communities and answering questions about special opportunities available to veterans.
For more information, please contact Ed Latour via email at [email protected].