On this installment of Return to Base, I welcome Dave Duffy. Dave is a retired Special Forces officer who now, in addition to doing business development in the defense contractor industry, is the proud owner/operator of two Tropical Smoothie franchises in Columbia, SC.
Today, Dave and I take some time to dig into his military service. This includes his time at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he played football before moving onto rugby. We discuss how his career in Special Forces helped him build a network that continues to do right by him, even 14 years after leaving the service. It really is “who you know;” his network and experience helped him land several jobs contracting for the U.S. Military.
Eventually, Dave and his wife found an investment opportunity with a business they frequently patronized: the Tropical Smoothie. Dave walks us through what being a franchise owner is like: the day to day, the annoying, and the rewards. As a fellow Veteran, I’ve received way too many calls asking me if I was interested in becoming a franchise owner. Why? Well, as it turns out, Veterans are great business owners and franchise partners. Franchises understand that and see Veteran ownership as a risk mitigation strategy.
So sit back, relax, blend some fruit, and welcome retired Lieutenant Colonel Dave Duffy.
If you are interested in connecting with Dave to ask him about defense contracting or franchise ownership, reach out through his LinkedIn.
Return to Base Podcast Ep. #15: Dave Duffy
Welcome back to this episode of Return to Base. Today we have Dave Duffy Retired Special Forces Officer, and now the Tropical Smoothie King of South Carolina. I am honored and thrilled to be here with you a quiet professional, of course, but you know what? Maybe we’ll get some drinks and nursing and us, and let it flow. Who knows?
Dave Duffy 01:10
Exactly Dave. I’m glad you said Tropical Smoothie King because you know, Smoothie King is proprietary. So I can’t say I’m a Smoothie King, but yes, it’s a brand. I’m just a Smoothie guy here in Colombia. But hey, thanks for having me on the show Cliff, looking forward to it.
Yes, Dave and I just recently connected through a mutual acquaintance who said Dave would be interesting to talk to you, and I gave Dave a call and we had a little bit of a conversation and dad gum and I agreed Dave is an interesting guy to talk to, especially for our audience. Number one GYVET. Number two, he’s forging his own path in one way, but also staying on the path in another way. It’s a weird little. It’s juxtaposition if you will, of the transition story, right. We’ll get her [cough] excuse me. I don’t know what’s going on here? Maybe I got the Vide. No [laughter] I’ve never had the Vide, by the way. Not officially.
[crosstalk] January 1st 2022, I caught the bid and my year got off to a fantastic start. But it sucked, and I’m not going to minimize it. But it didn’t require hospitalization. And two weeks later, I was back on my feet.
Thank God for that. Two people at my house, I’ve had the vide, and we separate ourselves from each other a little bit, but somehow myself and my youngest did not get it. Thank God.
Yes, good on you man.
Yes, I was saying about the path that you forged it’s interesting to me and we will get into it a little bit. But what I’d to do is just talk a little bit about, the relatable things that make this conversation, connect with our audience right. Join the army right out of what is that, this pretty small school, right?
A little small school up on the Hudson River, I think it’s the South Hudson Institute of Technology or shift for sure, but now I went to West Point out of rural Virginia. My family doesn’t have a history of going to college. Both my parents took a couple of classes, but never got a degree. But all three of their kids ended up, but I was the oldest and was really looking at going to VMI, quite frankly. But we took a family trip up though, New Jersey, and my dad’s a history buff. And so we visited West Point. The summer before my senior year, and applied and was fortunate enough to make it, and surprisingly enough graduated. That was 87.
I went infantry and then I went through. Now I always get these d*mn numbers goofed. But I went through selections in February of 92 and then went through the Q Course shortly thereafter. And I got the team in 93 March of 93. I had 371 back, when it was three number teams, being an old fart now but I was on, I was a team leader on 371. But shortly after the Battalion had activated, I wasn’t the first team leader, but it was the second. Yes and a third group existed before that was 93, yes.
Wow. All right
Wait, no, they have just what was all taken out of high. They didn’t, they literally stood up a new Battalion and brought in. In fact, the first Battalion Commander of three was a Major because they’ve ever tried to, because we don’t even a branch since 87. So they just didn’t have Field Grade Officers who had matriculated up into.
Where’d that Battalion come from?
No, they’re just well. It’s all taken out of hide. Didn’t they literally stood up a new Battalion and brought in. In fact, the first Battalion Commander of three was a Major because they were trying to, because we’d only been a branch since 87. So they just have Fuel Grade Officers who had matriculated up.
These were guys that were few course graduates but may never really had done anything in SF. And they got a letter saying, if you want to branch us up then come along. It was an interesting transition for SF. Not, it worked. But did it?
Being paid for my network now for 14 years and that’s unheard of.
You are good with it. It really did, but no, I went and retired in a way.
Yes. For the casual listener out there, the Tropical Smoothie fans who are [laughter] logging in here today because they’re Tropical Smoothie, there’s bunch of selection he’s talking about is Special Forces selection, it’s the rite of passage, if you will that, you have to go to earn the right, to be treated like dog crap for the next, I don’t know 18 months in the Special Forces Qualification course. Lovely and lovingly referred to as the Q Course that, they’re cute.
You basically just stand around on a basketball court for about half the time. [laughter]
Back, when you went though, you didn’t get around to it [crosstalk] no, I went to through school, so I went to Camp Slappy.
During the pipeline or did you have to go later?
I was in a pipeline.
We literally, you signed in and then we went right just, I went right to senior school after you did, you’re in processing.
Really? Wow. Hey, welcome to Fort Bragg.
Yes, exactly. Welcome to camera call.
Now, we’re going to take you to Pineland which, I know you feel [crosstalk] we got a Pineland hat. That is interesting. Yes [crosstalk] Pineland is a real thing, man. Yes, and we got a real life Pineland going on right now over there in Europe, Eurasia.
10th group guys getting excited.
Yes. So what was it? Well, let’s go back to West Point. Right, because I was so fascinated with this West Point, right. You said you came from rural Virginia [crosstalk] I can’t even pronounce rural half the time.
I worked. I did not grow up on a farm. But I work my uncle’s farm who’s dairy and beef. I started right before I turned 13. I worked every Saturday during the school year, and I worked six days a week during the summertime. And I did that until I graduated high school. And it taught me a lot of things. It was one of the best decisions my parents ever made for me, although I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Because it’s farming, it’s incredibly hard work. And it’s dangerous work. And you can do everything right, you still fail, which is one of the hardest things for me, but
It taught me how to work. It taught me that work wouldn’t kill you. It also taught me that the people I was working with which were black, white, male, old Young. Nobody really gave a sh*t. Your religion or, who your parents were or, what you believed in, it’s whether you contributed or, not.
If you contributed, then you were accepted, and that went a long way with me, that if you pull your way and work hard, and are value added, then that’s good enough. That’s stay with me, my whole life to this day, I try to plant that on my boy, because he’s getting ready to turn 13, and I’m like, hey man, I want you 13, you’re working shifts in the store and bro
Can you trade him in for another 12 year old and just keep doing that I’m 13 year old myself, and
I love him. They’re all challenged. He’s a good boy. But you see, he’s my son, and which means he’s got some wonderful characteristics that should set him up for success as an adult. But it makes him a bit of a pain in the *ss as a preteen.
Yes, let me ask you a question another, do you ever regret that you don’t have a farm to put him on?
Well, I would love to put him on one. There’s actually one that’s fairly close to us. I don’t know the people who own it. I doubt they’d employ him because he’s not family. But I got to tell you, all those things I learned on a farm, he can, learn in our stores is the same thing and with even more diversity. I mean, I got kids from all walks of life working for us. All races, genders…
All the genders?
All genders. I’ve had, but I, God bless these kids. These kids are Yes, I mean, the two that I recognize, but there’s a lot of kids, they’re confused out there. And they’re, looking for acceptance, and they’re not sure how to get from A to B in life. And so I’ve had girls hoping to be boys and boys hoping to be girls. And I’ve had all sexualities, you know, I’ve got young men who are extremely flamboyant, and young women who are the opposite of that. And yet, if they work, and contribute, that nobody cares, they’re really don’t show up, do your job. Get along with people or, and even if you keep to yourself, just be part of a team that contributes to getting the mission done.
In our case, it’s fast friendly service with accurate orders. Do that and you’re going to get paid, you’re going to get raises. And I, and just through the jobs, I’ve been exposed to kids that I’ve never would cross password in life, it’s made my life a little bit better. And I like to think maybe, we benefit from each other’s experiences. If we take time to learn about them. And being in the stores has allowed me to do that it keeps you around young people, which is also is a good thing.
Young people have energy, and as older people like to feed off that energy. And if you can do that, then that’s a great thing. And that’s, if there’s lots of benefits to these stores. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll trade them for a case of beer and a set of snow tires. Most days of the weak, because it’s a tremendous amount of work and sometimes you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, but the benefits of far outweigh the frustrations.
Yes, that’s good. And, I like what you said there about being around these young people, these young folks, and by the way all genders, of all sexualities of all sexes, of all colors, creed’s, ethnicities, that’s important, and I found that when I’ve been sequestered in my little Special Forces bubble for it, for too long. I get out of there and I learned a little bit about the world, and I can often empathize with, what they’re going through. And ultimately, it’s just a human experience.
People live their lives a little bit different than you, maybe even a little bit different than you would given the choice. But there’s something to be learned for it, and say what you want? But it does take some bravery to put yourself out there in a strange. What we would consider strange way, but we’re from the old school man, and we’re trying to change. And I think what we would, I would ask the young folk is to give us a modicum of respect and patience, and grace to, and we’ll come along. But the equalizer is work hard. Do your job.
Yes, exactly right and half the time Good lord, man, the young people lacking experience, so they think they know things, when in all candor, a lot of times they truly don’t know anything. And so you can’t squash them, you know, you could recognize an experience. But part of working is developing that experience. And it’s we’ve had at any given time, depending on what time of year I’ve got 60 to 100 employees, and we’ve been doing it for 10 years. So I, and it’s a revolving door on it.
There’s not much retention in this job, because we’re not a destination we’re a stop off on somebody’s life arc, but we’re not a destination when it comes to work. We’ve easily had 1000 kids roll through, and we’ve had some that immediately don’t work out. They’re not all great kids by any stretch, but ones who stick with us end up bringing pretty good kids. And it certainly allows you for a little bit of hope for the future. I’ll just say that.
Yes. Do they keep in touch?
No, and I say that, because I don’t get on social. If they send me a Facebook request, I don’t take it, because it helps allow that, hey, at the end of the day is still an employee, employer relationship. We’re not friends. We can be friendly, and should be friendly and respectful to each other. But we’re not friends. And, but you’ll be surprised, you’ll cross path, I ran into a girl at the UPS just, the other day that worked for us, for about three months and it was very friendly conversation, and it was glad to see her. You do cross path this little. We’re in Colombia but we live in a little community called IRMO, and it’s a small community. You run into a lot of people. But yes, as far as keep in touch.
No, not really. I don’t agree with that. I, myself having, you’ve been in the community that you’re, you were part of it. I haven’t kept in touch with everybody. It’s one of those thing kept in touch with the few in the crowd. I guess.
Yes. I keep up with guys from you know, that we’re all my team. And that’s what the benefit of social media. It’s just, it allows you to keep up or, remain in contact with people that otherwise I’d never make contact with. Just never.
That’s a great thing about, the Military is sh*t. You worked closely with people, you probably never would have ever said right, and absolutely, even the Military is a melting pot. And by the way, that’s the elephant in the room is soft, Special Operations is pretty vanilla, right? It’s not the most integrated. There’s quite a few Hispanics.
You’re in 7th grade. You get a lot of Spanish.
Yes, exactly. There’s plenty of Hispanics, there’s, but we’re under represented and represented largely, and actually.
There’s a lot of, there’s historical reasons for that which bleeded to the culture of the military. And there is not enough African Americans in the infantry for that matter. And it really, it goes back to the fact that, you know, prior to integration. Those troops are all in support units, and this day, and your role model, you know, young people coming up, choose mentors and role models, and a lot of times they choose those, that look like them and act like them, or whatnot.
So you’ve had their uncle or relationship exactly right. And, even to this day, when commissioning at West Point, the majority of African American Black Cadets, they go into the Combat Service Support. They don’t go into the combat arms. It has nothing to do with bravery.
It has everything to do with that’s, the traditional path that there’re mentor was in that unit or, was that, and also the historically Black Colleges that have ROTC units that produce a lot of officers again, the tax or, the PMOS for those units are all from, but not exclusively. Of course but predominantly they’re from Combat Service Support, and it’s not a dam thing wrong in the World.
Service Support, not at all.
They’re desperately needed or, else nothing happens. But that’s why to this there’s under representation in the Combat arms. Particularly, in the infantry of Black Soldiers and then even less Black Officers it had nothing to do with bravery or physical ability, nothing. That’s the role models we put in front of them.
Yes, I guess, I’ve never looked at it that way. But you’re absolutely right. Well, I became Special Forces. I joined the Army. And guess what? My older brother, like seven years before, me joined the army and then became Special Forces.
There you go. Well, I said that for me.
I suppose I followed his back.
Yes, absolutely did. And my dad was drafted. My grandfather’s all served. My uncle’s all served it was either Navy army. One uncle was Career Navy, the rest of them were Career. They were all listed guys. And I was going to enlist. That was the path I was going to do. But when I got accepted, then I was like, all right it’s not going to cost the family anything, so I’ll give it a shot.
What time did you know it was such a prestigious college?
I didn’t even know it existed when I went over. That’s nice. I used to think the Army Navy game that I saw on TV was soldiers playing sailors in people. That’s true because again, this is way before Google. This is way before cell phones and social media. My parents scrimped and saved for a set of encyclopedias for us that, you know, we got one a month. So, by the time he got the last one, the first one was already obsolete, but, that’s what I didn’t know. And then when I visited the place, it was like, let’s give it a shot.
You must have been in for a rude awakening when
I was, but I also you know, I had people that were, Ok, this is how it’s going to be. But you know, people can tell you what the experience will be all day long, until you experience it. It means nothing. You can’t tell people experience after they have to go through themselves. But
I bet you have. We talked about this on this Podcast a lot, right. But like, the most memorable and those things he looked back on with like almost nostalgia are the times that you were, you hated it. And I imagine at West Point, I don’t know how many miles did you walk?
I was not a century man, which everybody assumes I was which means you walked 100 hours. I didn’t get caught much. Let’s just leave it
You kept your nose to the ground.
I was a Rugby player. I went up there to play football because I was a good book. I was an All-State footballer in Virginia for double-A school. We won the state championship. I made the football team at West Point. But I was undersized and buried on a scout team and get my rear end beat in practice, and fail in school. So at the end of the first semester, I officially, I quit the team but trust me nobody was like crying any tears over the fact that I left the team. I think they were surprised I was still on the team to be honest with you.
When I went to the coach and said it’s not working out. And I went home for that Christmas and then I came back and HR McMaster was a table come done of mine. He was a senior my plea viewer of firstie. He told me football didn’t work out to give Rugby a try. And I never heard Rugby in my life. And I got back from that Christmas. So this would have been early an in 84, second semester plea beer. I called him and remind him our conversation. And
Are you a fan of the sport in general?
Yes I follow six Nation. My last name’s Duffy, so I root for the Irish and I enjoy watching the all blacks play, the best team on planet. I have not. Is that the one with the South African book?
No, it’s actually called Legacy [crosstalk] it’s a good book on leadership, and how small teams can become Elite teams. And rule number one is, I believe, is sweep the sheds. So it’s an interesting concept is after every game, they like talk about the game win or lose. The most senior members of the team, get up, pick up a broom and sheds are, lockers and they just circling right. It’s one of those things where like, the trade names, the stadium staff comes in afterwards and places speaking span because you know, they display leadership.
I’ll look for it. No, it’s a great book.
I’m not getting paid for this.
I’ve had the privilege to see the all Blacks play in sevens a few times. I’ve never seen him play 15s. But, yes they got a h*ll of a program. Yes, but I’m a fan of the game man. I enjoy it.
Yes, they’ve managed to instill a culture and here’s an interesting thing that I didn’t know, until I read the book was, yes, I don’t know anything about Rugby, right. But I always assumed the all Blacks, were all people from New Zealand. You get people from Canada or, wherever these people come from, and they learned the Hakka, because they buy into the culture.
Yes, well you in order, you have to be a citizen or, of this descent, so to speak, to play on the national team or, play on the All Blacks, but the Haka is a Maori war dance. So just because you live in New Zealand doesn’t mean you know how to do a Hakka or, that you have anything to do with the Maori. So that’s one of the things if you make the team then yes, that’s first thing you do, is learn how to do that because that’s what they’re known for.
So let’s circle back here. Sure, West Point great good f*cking experience [crosstalk] the branch infantry. You did a few things right.
I was in the bottom half of my class, but just a smidge, but I cannot say I graduate. I was, I graduated in the bottom half. Rugby saved me. So I was basically my mind at the time, I was a Rugby player that attended West Point, and even get a lot of it. And I rebelled against a lot of it, and really, the worst thing that happened is, I went out to Hawaii as for Cadet Troop Leading Training CTLT. And I linked up with an infantry unit out of the first of the 35th cacti. And I did five weeks with him, which three of those weeks, we were on a big island and Parabola training area. And I truly felt like, I was the Platoon Leader.
I had a Platoon Sergeant said, hey, sir, hey Cadet there’s no Platoon leader here. You’re it. And I loved it. And I knew that, what I wanted to do. And they all accepted me and a Battalion Command, even if there just blowing smoke up my rear end. I didn’t even consider that at the time if they were, but everybody’s like, you come back here and serve with us, and we got a spot for you blah. Problem is, I had two more years to do. Now, is that right? Yes, I had two more years to do. And I went back to West Point going like, all right, I’m ready to go, commission me now.
Very arrogant, and I made it through but, I made it a lot harder on myself than I ever needed to be. But I made it through that commission inventory, I got assigned to Fort Lewis Washington because I never been out to that part of the world before, and the better posts like 82nd in the Vicenza a couple of places already taking.
I could have gone to the 101st in hindsight, professionally speaking, I should have gone to the 101st, but I grew up in Virginia, and I just wanted to see another part of the United States than Kentucky. So I went out there and I knew second Range of Battalion was there. I figured, I’d try to give them, try to get the second bat which I got accepted to. But my Battalion Commander wouldn’t sign the 4187 Enter post transfer, which frankly led me to Special Forces.
That seems like the story, that I hear all the time.
No, I became, I had three Platoons had a Rifle Platoon and then AT Platoon, and then I had a Scout Platoon. When he gave me the Scout Platoon is when he told me I wasn’t going to second back. And I decided, I was going to get out. In fact, I started interviewing with the FBI and made it through a gate or two, but in the interoom, that Scout platoon was fantastic. It was just a great group of Americans. And my Platoon Sergeant was a great guy. And I decided to stay,
I was like, if I’m enjoying this, why would I leave? And 18 Platoon Sergeant was a Vietnam Veteran and he had a little, he had a break of service. And he was an old guy as mean as h*ll. I loved him. But he was, he did a stint with fifth group in Vietnam. And that’s he came across because I heard that Secretary sh*t didn’t work out for you. I said no and he goes well, you don’t want to go there, he goes. He goes OSF. And we had the scouts, had done some work with first group on Lewis. And I wasn’t that impressed.
He treated us scrappily. And we just did. It wasn’t the best experience, and I was like, those guys didn’t do much for me, because I’m telling you, go SF. And I really wanted to continue a direct relationship with NCOs and soldiers although that, and SF offered that pathway. Just try to extend it a little longer. And then desert storm happened. And we didn’t go to Iraq, we went to the NTC to train the Georgia National Guard guys. What ended in 100 hours, and everybody’s brother got medals and accolades and CIBs showered upon them, and I didn’t, I was like [crosstalk] I’m either going that’s from getting out, because I’m not going to stay in the infantry.
You know, we’re most everybody in my peer group was able to participate. Yes, and again some of that was just anger and little bit of jealousy, and not maybe, not that accurate, but that’s where my mind was at the time. And I went SF and I got to tell you, it was the best professional decision ever made my life. And to this day
Better than Tropical Smoothie.
Even better than Tropical Smoothie 100%. Now BNS was, I’ve worked and that’s why I still do the fence contract at work is, I can stay in the community even if it’s an auxiliary role now, instead of directly working with G’s. It allows me to stay, to even if I’m way on the outside I’m still within the orbit of our community. And I enjoyed a h*ll of.
You really got out in 2008 I’m doing back in the national math, that’s like, right at 20 years [crosstalk]
Not, 21 years. I said paid him. The reason I got asked by my wife. She’s my third wife and I finally got a wife. I like and, I did the burn up the highway between Columbia Fort Bragg and the army was going to send me back overseas for a tour. And I was like, if I do this tour, then she’s going to be gone. And my 06 board was coming up. And I was like, if I make it, which by no means was guarantee, but if I make it then, now I got to do another five years. I will not be a Group Commander. I was not a Battalion Commander. It’s like, I won’t be a Group Commander. I’m going to be a staff dick. And I said mostly 06’s I see they don’t like what they do.
Yes, I said, I had a guy, a third group, Master Brett Blankenship, he and I played high school football together. And he told me, he said, look man, you got to know when to ride off into the sunset man. He said, don’t force anybody to ride, just do what you know, when to do that. And it was good advice. And
Chief of Staff called me up like, hey, you got to finish your package, so you can, we can go to 6 4. I said hey sir, I’m putting my timer pack, and he wasn’t happy with it. I said look sir, nobody’s got me on any group command list. The Army will be and Special Forces will be just fine without me. And they have. So I retired in [phonetic] moved to Columbus, moved to IRMO South Carolina IRMOS the only one in America. And I’ve been here ever since and my wife and I have really created a nice life for ourselves.
That’s awesome man. You know there’s something there that I want to dive like into just a little bit right. It’s the way that the Military rank and promotion are structured and in position. Bottom line is there’s not enough Battalion for lieutenant Colonels. There’s definitely not enough groups or, in Special Forces group. I don’t even know what a regular game [laughter] I bet you know somebody ones called me a racist.
It was like, one of those things, its like, dude it’s notorious for. Listen I hope this is important everybody else, but for Special Forces guys you see O Force, Majors just hate each other, and hate life and then you’re like, man, I’m so glad I’m an NCO.
At one point they look us from an auditorium, to another room in the Pentagon. It was cool. It’s the only time I’ve ever been to Pentagon. And I was walking up this stairwell and at the landing of the stairwell between floor was a Lieutenant Colonel with a Special Forces tab, saying right this way sir. Go up there and take a right. And I was like, I know you. He’s like, what are you doing in the stairwell? And he’s like, I hate my life [laughter]
Ok, I haven’t heard it [laughter]
Well, I work real hard to keep it fresh and to meet new people and develop new relationships and go to new events. So I’ve got a strategy on how I do all that. And it’s been successful. But I literally had coffee with an army, oh 6 finance officer that was being offered a job by the University of South Carolina for $85,000. And he was like, that’s just not enough. I need to make 150. And I said, I said, Look, boss, if you can get 150,000, then by all means, get it.
I go, but you’re not going to find that around here. Its Columbus isn’t DC, if you’re in DC, and you’re coming out of a job in the military, like acquisitions, where defense companies want you because you know, the Chaos and the CEO or phonebook? Yeah, I said, then you’re a huge value, and you can command that money here.
Columbia, South Carolina, doing work for the University, you’re still getting paid on the higher end of the scale for a startup job. I said, but I said, you can make anything you want for this job. I go, but he ended up taking it but that’s what happens to a lot of senior officers is they have a an over. Ah, they believe their self worth is more than what it really is. Yeah. And, and they let’s be
That’s awesome, man. You know, there’s something there, that I want to like dive into just a little bit right. And it’s the way that the Military rank and promotions are structured, and in positions you know. Bottom line is there’re not enough Battalions for Lieutenant Colonels. There’s definitely not enough groups or, in Special Forces groups. I don’t even know what a regular day [crosstalk]
Somebody once called me a racist [crosstalk] Remember races? Because you only think like your Green Berets [phonetic] guilty as charged.
You’re any good. You’d think the same way brother.
It was cool. It’s the only time I’ve ever been the Pentagon. And I was walking up this stairwell and at like, the landing of the stairwell between floors, was a Lieutenant Colonel with a Special Forces dad saying, right this way sir. Up there and take your right and I was like, I know you, and he was like, yes, and I was like, what are you doing in the stairwell? And he’s like, I hate my life [laughter]
It was like one of those things. It’s like, dude it’s notorious for– Listen, I hope this isn’t boring for everybody else, but for Special Forces, guys. You see Oh, Force majors, just hate each other and hate life. And then you’re like, Man, I’m so glad I’m an NCO.
I ran the G3x. In fact it was became the G3x under me. Initially, it was a Special Programs Division of [phonetic]
Explain what G3x is real quick?
It’s the, this is the Classified Operations that Green Berets are involved in primarily in the irregular warfare and unconventional warfare applications. So they should be some, it could be in a peacetime setting where you’re just doing assessments and some shaping operations or, it could be in a war time setting. Where you operate in denied areas with or, without proxies and it, but the classified aspects of that, and so
I love that job. And for you to tell to Captain Duffy team leader that for five years you’d be a Lieutenant Colonel in USA having the time of your life. I would have laughed at you. But I was on, I became the UW subject matter expert for SOCOM during that period. And I was on all the like, that’s when the irregular warfare was resurrected as a term and they did all the SOCOM did all the manual stretch sh*t. And I went all over the planet. There I went to Whole Island. I went to Colombia, I went to Yemen. I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. I went to Djibouti. I just went wherever they were Green Berets that our Geo wanted to know, if they had what they needed to do, as the title 10 as the water supply supplier for Green Berets.
Were we doing what you’re supposed to do from Fort Bragg? What’s ground truth? And I had to time my life. I was an 05 that worked for a three star. The G3, the 06. Well, I started off with Kid singer and then I went to Wagner. And Wagner had a range of background and he’s a little bit of a tough nut to crack at first, but Sergeant Major Hall was great. Even though he’s, you know, he’s a Ranger legend. In fact, he’s right now he’s the honorary Sergeant Major of the Ranger Regiment. And he’s a friend. Michael is a friend of mine, but my call was instrumental because I had to brief the three stars twice a week. And
I remember Wagner was talking about, we were doing some operations in Iraq. And Wagner goes, Ok, so those are UW, and I said, No sir, they’re not. That’s the fit operation. And I explained to him that fit for an internal offence for your audience. But I explained to them, why by doctrine and definition it was Foreign Internal Defense versus unconventional warfare. But then I said, now what we’re doing here, and here by extension is unconventional warfare.
We are going to work by with it through [phonetic] and he goes Ok, I got it. Well then the meeting ended and graduation hall goes, he goes hey Colonel, congratulation on having the courage to tell the General he was wrong. And I’m like what? Because you wouldn’t believe how many people I see sit there and not correct the General, because of all I think of is fear. He goes.
Wanger doesn’t know everything. He goes in your job as is, you know, Office of responsibility is to make sure that he’s correct. And he goes in you did, he goes, he was wrong. You corrected him. He did it in a respectful and educated manner. And he got it. He goes so good work. I said well, thanks our Major. I always take a compliment from you, but I find it surprising what you told me. But I had a great job. And
Then Paul Tompkins was retired CW for he became my mentor, and he retires April 29. And I’ll be a Bragg for his retirement as a GS. It was a great job. But it came to an end like other things. Yes, I just decided that the last thing I wanted to do in the Army was it was a job that I thoroughly enjoyed with people that thoroughly enjoyed, and I was eligible for retirement. It’s not like, I walked away from money or anything but they said it was a coin toss bro 6. I don’t think I’ve would made it. I don’t tell people how to made it. But it didn’t matter. I wasn’t assessed. So I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and did you ever look back?
Let me tell you then, 20 years. High three, Lieutenant Colonel, you’re right [crosstalk]
I appreciate the house payment they sent me every month.
So that’s right and thank you for your service, by the way, you
You are about right back at you there but my fellow Green Berets
Yes, let’s talk about that transition. So your transition from the Military was, you know, frankly, what a lot of people think that they have to do what others think that is the last thing I’ll do.
It was easy.
By the way let’s go, our friend here Lieutenant Colonel retired Dave Duffy went to the dark side, Defense Contracting.
Dirty Contractor. I oversaw a program that I contracted to Gs under the G3x. The ASO contract not to violate any classification guidelines. But I was the COR for which is Contract Officer Representative for the advanced Special Operations Contract. And so Any-K which was run by Bruce Parkman and Tony Porterfield, who I knew through playing Rugby now, even though they’re both retired Green Berets Sergeant Majors, but their time was in 7th group and 10th group, I only knew him from the Rugby field.
They hired me for Any-K. I was the first O, to be hired by them as a full-time employee because their entire business model was NCOs Warrants. And I told them and they’re like, man! are you going to have a problem working for an NCO? And I said, I was like, Bruce, you’re the officer here. Not me. When you hire me, I become a bubba for you. You pay me for a job, so there is no concerns about rank or, you know, class or, what have you. I go, you’re the CEO of the company, you’re the General Officer.
You’re not an NCO anymore.
You’re not NCO anymore. I would tell you, and they will be like, you officers like O, I’m a retiree just like you. But I will say this, I love to work ready. It was a great company. It was so much energy and excitement. And
You got a good job. That’s a fantastic.
I was able to work out of my house, doing business development, for Any-K, and then business development is that’s SF 101 stuff, man, its networking. It’s shaping, it’s finally got to the 80s is developing opportunities, is putting together the correct team to go after opportunities. And then it’s bidding on then and winning. And whether you did all of that are only a part of that. And I was with them for five years now. And it was good money. And we took a lot of prides supporting teams.
Now, my wife told me like, hey, you know, you’re an overhead guy, right? Which means as soon as the company starts either flat lining on revenue or, have to cut costs you’re the first one to go and I remember clearly telling her like, what you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is an SF team. This is SF Isaac. This is like being back on team, you don’t know how tight we all are. This is great. Any-K was purchased by cubic for a lot of money. And I was given 90 day notice of final job or ability. And I it was a good lesson to learn and to back up just a bit.
We had decided to open our first store shoved all of our money in. And then three months after we opened our store, Any-K was sold. And I was given that, hey, in 90 days, you had a job. So that was stressful. But I was going to go back to Afghanistan, do some do overseas contract, and I talked to a company and they were ready to hire me. Unfortunately, about 45 days into the process, I was hired by Silverback seven, which was a company out of Northern Virginia, another SF company to do the exact same work. And that was a good outfit and then they were bought by Patriot Defense group, but I was actually part of that sale.
I was with PDG for a couple years I did a year with beyond SAV, which is a recruiting company. And then yes, [phonetic] they run a good outfit up there. And then a year ago, I was picked up by extra tour as a 1099 BD running part doing part time work because with COVID, the travel stopped. And I decided I didn’t want to travel like I used to. And
Ex-doors is a great company, I really enjoy working with them. The company culture, it’s the same to guy. They’re $500 million Company, but the same two guys that own it still run it, there is no board, there is no massive layer of bureaucracy. They’re a reasonable company, they listen, and then they make a decision. And then everybody’s on board with that decision and as a part time consultant contractor for them. I feel like I’m a full time employee. They don’t treat me as somebody different. And I’m grateful for that. So yes,
A lot of, I would say a lot of senior officers. People don’t understand there’s that distinction. DMOS man, they get swept up so quick while they’re working 90 hours a week. But the opportunities actually begin to constrict for the higher rank and especially in [phonetic] yes, you can go out and you can forge your own path. But, you know, what, you know, and when.
Sometimes it’s like, I got my first job from my network, right? And then I’ve been able to monetize that network. I’ve been, being paid for my network, now for 14 years and that’s unheard of. Well, I work real hard to keep it fresh and to meet new people, and develop new relationships and go to new events. So I’ve got a strategy on how I do all that. And it’s been successful. But
I literally had coffee with an Army 06 Finance Officer that was being offered a job by the University of South Carolina for $85,000. And he was like, that’s just not enough. I need to make 150. And I said, look, boss, if you can get 150,000, then by all means, get it. I go, but you’re not going to find that around here. Its Columbus isn’t DC, if you’re in DC, and you’re coming out of a job in the Military, like acquisitions, where Defense companies want you because you know, the chaos and the CEO or phonebook? Yes, I said, then you’re a huge value, and you can command that money here.
Columbia, South Carolina, doing work for the University, you’re still getting paid on the higher end of the scale for a startup job. I said, but you can make anything you want for this job. I go, but he ended up taking it but that’s what happens to a lot of senior officers is they have an over. They believe their self-worth is more than what it really is. And they
Let’s be clear, they’re Veteran. They have a lot of worth, but you still have to there’s things that you can’t control. Yes you can’t control. You can f*cking move [laughter]
You’ve got to know the market. You got to know what’s available. And I’ll tell you this, the other thing was with the stereotypical O6, GOFO General Officer flag officer. There used to be in executives, they don’t want to work. They want to make decisions. They want that JMO to come to him and say, hey sir, we got a couple of courses of action. All right, briefed me. All right, we’ll do that. Ok, great. Where’s my coffee? And they want to get paid a lot of money for that.
Well, unless you start your own business, that isn’t going to happen. And there’s a bit, sometimes there’s a bit of a learning curve that’s hard for guys to overcome. It’s rare, where you get a guy that comes in and rolls the sleeves up. It just is, I can name Mark Fangs, one of those guys, Chris Nontax, one of those guys, they showed up and just roll their sleeves up and started working and making money. Grubby Clark, former Marsac Commander, he’s one of those guys.
These guys just say, hey yes, I might have been a Geo once upon a time, but you know, I’m here to work, and then they’re in value. Barney shampoos work for a Korean company, because he used to be the second IV Commander and he’s done very well, but he’s worked. And there’s so many that they want to go, they put me on your board. And I had an old Tank Commander that was three stars General retired. He’s like, hey, put me on your board. I go, sir, we don’t have a movie. He goes, well make one put me on it. I just can’t say that. It was years ago. But it’s for all ranks.
If you’re going to retire versus a guy getting out after one hitch or whatever, then it’s difficult to put yourself back into an entry level mindset. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. And as long as you know, and I told I had a Green Berets 06. He was Dave. I don’t know what to do. I said, Dude, your natural network, you’ve been trained to network. You’ve been trained to identify key nodes on a network. You’ve been trained to develop access, approach plans to shake to make them more receptive to you. You’ve been trained to do that. I go put that on a business world. It’s not hard. Just put a little thought and rigor into it. And you’ll be fine. And he was fine. He did great with a Defense company out of Charlotte. He did great. Yes. It’s hard to put yourself back into an entry mode mentality where I’m above.
Lot of People are like that. And I talked to a lot of folks who have been out for three years and I’ve done okay. And a lot of people come and talk to me. And they asked me what I did. And when I got out, I networked for a job and I got put in basically, an entry level as an analyst position, if you will. And I quickly worked my way up through the company, before it shut down, unfortunately, right before the COVID-9, but
I would tell you what you just said, though about your work your way you work? That’s one thing that Veterans have, if they decide to do it, they will put their nose down and work. And their dedication and maturity, their decision making is noticed by employers. And then they’re given more responsibility, by and large, but you got to go through that initial entry period, where you may not be making the money you think you should be making. But as long as you recognize that, I’m going to crush this place.
You’ll get there, man. You’re client, believe me.
You’ll know the attitude is like, I’ve never met anybody like me. I’m going to own this place. I’m going to use.
You talking about, hey, you’re SFA how to like, build a network and everything. And one of my favorite little things from Special Forces training, not in the school, but a different school I went to, I think Any-K ran it. As a matter of fact, nobody bid, but it was it out of Fort Campbell.
Anyways, one night, they said, hey, here’s your assignment. You all have an envelope, and in the envelope is a restaurant or whatever, in this town. And by the way, Clarksville, Tennessee is not that big. And we all had to go different places. And we all had, to our assignment, was to get the name, phone number, address, and birthday of somebody at that place we went to. And could not be a female. And in Yes, so there was at the worst restaurant in this f*cking town. Give me the, it still operates.
I’m sure that it’s some human trafficking. Me like talking to some random guy at the bar. He’s probably thinking I’m hitting on him. I’m like, trying to find out way. So I’m like, man, it’s my birthday today. When’s your birthday? [laughter] I got everything out of this f*cking dude. And I’m like, No way. This dude just gave me address his birthday. I probably could have got his social security number.
I told that to my wife. And we early dating early because she made, she didn’t know anything about the army, let alone Special Forces. And I said, look, I just got to let you know, you got no hope right now. It’s already a done deal between me and you. And she’s like, really? I said yes, because Green Berets are trained in the art of seduction [laughter] she goes, what? Yes, we’re training the art of seduction. It’s unconventional warfare. But it’s seduction. I go there’s seven phases of UW, there’s seven phases, you can apply directly on seduction. I go.
You got no hope. And she literally looked at me. She goes, how does that work for you? Does that line work for you? To call me out but there’s truth to it, though. It’s the only one that matters [laughter] but there’s truth to that because you know, how to talk to people. At the end of the day, you know, how to get people to do things for you? Whether they’re aware of it or, not? Yes, and it’s not nefarious. It’s just a lot of times like, your example is got most people want to talk. You just got to give him an opportunity to talk.
That’s right. That’s sales.
But it’s sales. I told him, I was talking to the Communications Director from Beaufort, South Carolina’s wonderful woman. I said, Ma’am, every conversation, it has to be the most important one you’ve ever had, regardless of what the topic is and who you’re talking to. I said, if you’re listening with all five of your senses to someone, I said, it’s like a politician wanting your vote, every vote important. You can’t blow up anybody. It’s the same with conversations.
Every conversation has to be important because from conversation comes opportunity. And I 100% believe that, yeah, so but it’s got so you got to be able to be a conversationalist, which there’s a bit Have an art to that. You have to make people comfortable around you. You have to engage with them. You have to you can’t just talk the whole time you actually have to listen. But you have to make people feel important without it coming across as this guy wants something. Yes, and Green Bridge good.
I think the best compliment somebody could give somebody is, you are a good listener.
Yes, when I was going through divorce number one, the army sent me to West Point to be attack off. So the little known trivia means nothing. I was the first 18 series TAC officer what? Yes, which big d*mn deal. But my, they sent me to get a graduate degree. And it was in counseling and senior leader development. And that was the biggest thing I got out of, how important listening. And
My wife will tell you, I don’t listen to that sh*t. And she’s right. When it comes to a conversation, I know how to listen. And some people come by naturally but most folks have to work at. But that was a, you know, a whole year of studying and that’s all I remember out of it’s my bed and listen, what the sh*t but no, it’s incredibly important. Because it shows people they’re important when you’re when you’re paying attention to.
Yes, it makes them feel good.
They’re important. You know, you’re not looking at your watch. You’re not looking at your phone. You’re not looking at the TV. You’re looking at down the sand. Hard to
Do you know, by the way?
There’s so many distractions.
I kicked myself when the times were talking with my kid and I started looking at my phone, the kids, and it’s just like, dude, what are you doing, man? It’s not even like it’s a message or anything. It’s just like bullsh*tting dude and compasses we are.
You’re exactly right. And we all do it. We’re all, we’re it’s an addiction. You know, it’s like, I lived more years without a phone than I have with one. But yes, you know, and I don’t think I’m as bad as others, but I’m still guilty.
We all, and by the way, we, people like you and me and people of our age, we can make it. It’s very obvious when we’re on our phone because we’re looking at it. You’re like,
We’re not slick all the way.
Wait a minute, it’s like we’re going to, Dave, let’s transition real quick because, Ok, we talked about your journey, WestPoint, Great Army, SF, all those good things Defense Contractor, It didn’t get any worse stories, right. But that’s fine.
We can go back if you want to do that. I tell you what, the life changing of it. Ok, as I was asking pay good money is the best contractor and still get paid good money.
Let’s talk about him transitioning to be physician [crosstalk]
Just how that journey began. I’d never heard of chocolate Smoothie Cafe in my life. And in 2010, my wife found one here in Colombia was tucked away in a little corner. It wasn’t known. But it had a good following. And she ate there. And she came back to me. She goes, Hey, I found a place. It’s healthier food. And so when I heard health food, all I heard was tofu and wheatgrass. And I’m like, No, thank you. But we even then because
At the time, my wife was a social worker and an Aerobics Instructor. And then we had a very young son who was born in 2009, and I was traveling a lot for worse, was very dynamic life. We certainly wasn’t there, was never any Norman Rockwell dinner paintings going on in our house. So it was another option for eating out. And at first I said no, and then of course, I went there, and it was good. Food was good, smoothies were good. So we became patrons. And after about a year, we heard they’re going out of business because the owner was in New Jersey and his son was managing it, and his son was not interested in everything but management store. And so
That’s my wife, she is full creditor and blame depending on what day it is. But my wife looked at me and said, we got to get one of these. And I was like, I don’t know anything about running a store, restaurant. It’s fast casual is counter service. I said I don’t know. And she was willing to pay somebody to run a force. But we need one of these.
She just wanted this management, man.
When we were dating, she was like, I want to own my own business one day, but you know, I really wants to run it for me. And I was like, yes, sure, that’s your American dream, build some from nothing, thinking we’re never going to do that. Well, she teed it up, she’s like, hey, we need to buy one of these. And so I looked into a Tropical Smoothie to buy a franchise was just the ability to open one was $25,000 at the time. I believe it’s more expensive now. But
For Veterans, DD214 holders, it was qualified. And I was so clear out so d*mn, now you man, I’m like 125. H*ll man we get sweating that not realizing that was going to cost me about 270 grand open the first door all in.
The tenant licensing fee.
My insurance work for Any-K, they pay me good money. So it’s not like I’m risking our house. Yes, we opened in August of 2010. Now that’s an accurate 2012 took us a year and a half location. But file location didn’t open yada, but it took as long and I thought, but August of 2012 we opened and then December 2012. I got a layoff notice. And we had nothing, and that was stressful. I told her why she wanted to lose her house that I would go to have.
Our first store was 270. Our second store was about 220. And then Alaska was 400 because that was just gravel on a seven storey building. But return on investment was about three and a half years for all of them. And I worked in numbers. And I was like, and the first store had a fallen and I was like, if we can get open, we’re going to make money. And so I thought our risk assessment, I did was that, this was minimal. And so I shoved every penny we had in that board. A little bit from my mother. In law, we paid her back immediately. But we had nothing but a store. And we both were working. And that was
Well, we opened the first store. Our initial manager did not work out. And we realized that if we were going to make a go out of it, we had to have more than one store because profit margin is not big on these stores. Yes, it’s everybody’s like, you’re making a killing.
I started doing three monitoring birds in Afghanistan. But I was fortunate to pick up a Silverback seven and I got that job through a network of a West Point classmate who also went Special Forces, introduced me to a guy he served with in first group to work for Silverback seven, and he got me the interview. And then the owner of that company was an SF guy out of seventh group. The CEO was at a 10th group you know, everybody was so couple of mid knew of me. I got hired by them so it was fine.
A percent and
A lot of I will say this, for traveling smoothly for us. We’re a little north of that. We do better than the average bear. But when you go to these big fancy restaurants, you only look at it for 5% profit margin for those places. They make it in volume and the menu, but it doesn’t take much. That’s why so many restaurants also get behind. And while we were profitable that first year, we decided to open a second one, and we shoved all in again. It was cheaper, and
Wow, go ahead.
That I’ve found the location from another network. Our landlord in our second store also had a construction company. And he told me that, hey, South Carolina has turned his parking lot into a dorm. And here’s the company that’s going to be managing it. So you call them now. We got the corner location where the students are in town. That’s our busy store right now spring break so, we’re closing early, but we, man, it’s been quite a ride.
Franchising is an interesting world. You work for the franchise; you will pay them their tribute. As agreed to in your contract. You’re not always going to agree with what they do. But Tropical Smoothie, it’s profitable. And you don’t mind working hard. As long as you got your show, you’re able to show something in the bank for. Yes, I’ve had my differences with Tropical Smoothie. And yet, I’ve got an application in for two more stores right now.
I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. There’s a lot of days, I don’t like it. You know, you’re dealing with the public. And a lot of people in the public are going to be in a bad mood, and nothing you’re going to do is going to fix that. A lot of people don’t treat food service people very nice, quite frankly, really true. You know, you’re there to give me my food. So Megan had.
After about three years, I gave it back to the franchise that has a logo. I get walk away, and you can take it over the lease. I declare bankruptcy and then you got to report that you’re Franchise Disclosure Document, however you want to do it. They just took over operations. That was a loss. So we’ve opened five big five businesses now in 10 years and on three, one on one and now though, that it’s not bad at all.
I did the Professional MBA Program, which is nights and weekends. That kid a classmate was with the Athletic Department, and they wanted the space. So the Athletic Department paid me full, asking for it. So I called out with a tie because it cost me some time and frustration, but then cost me money. And then we opened up an escape room franchise in Myrtle Beach, that if I lived in Myrtle Beach, I would have made it work. But we were too far away. And we never could find anybody that was invested in it to try to make it a go, and
But we got great kids and workforce by and large. Not all of them are good. And when those you move on your way, but we’ve had the pleasure of having some really wonderful kids work for us. The vast majority of our clientele are great people. They’re either friendly, or they’re neutral, which is wonderful. You walk up to the register, you give your order you wait patiently we get it. You leave. Thank you. You’re the best person on the head today. You are I
Mean? Do you make smoothies and run the register?
Yes, I know. I’m better a register because I talked to everybody. And it also helps slow down things because I talk and then that allows people in the back to play catch up. But I can do register. I can make smoothies. Although I can make an excellent smoothie under so slow because I don’t have the recipes memorized. I can pour a smoothie and there’s an art to pour to smooth it out. I’ve watched more dishes than anybody we have, and
I can do food finish, which is the right of putting the finishing touches on a sandwich or a wrap and wrapping it up thrown in a bag, make sure the order is correct and to run it out, which that gets hectic man, when the screens full of orders and you’re trying to keep track of all the one thing I haven’t done is food bills after 10 years, I still don’t make a sandwich. That’s my inability. I told that we got it, we got five. We’ve got five full time employees with us that are on salary.
I told one of them earlier this week, I said, look man, you got to teach me how to build. I said, I can’t shut, I can’t duck it anymore. So I think next, I think next week, I’ll be building sandwiches, but not I worked in the store. It was rainy today, I was supposed to work in a store, but they didn’t need me. So I went in and wash dishes, help them get caught up. And then I ran product, we were out of sticky labels. So I went to one store, grabbed a box and went to those stores.
I do a lot of drive in some days. Because you know, we have three stores these stores about 20 minutes apart. And you know, this stores out of this, this stores out of that. And I do the maintenance like, all the toilet broke, you know, a couple of nights a couple of weeks ago, I was up with a plumber jack hammering floors, because we had a vote. Toilets were constantly backing up on us, and the fall of the line, and who for whatever reason, it had got to negative versus a degree positive. So we had to go on there and replace some things and prop it up. And it was a pain in the butt job. But it needs to be done. And
I mean, here you are. Boy, 14 years.
Yes, cares for hard.
Working hard and
I have two jobs. Yes, I work every day because when you own your own business, every day is a Monday. We’re open seven days a week. And you never know when somebody’s not going to show up. My tummy hurts. I get a doctor’s note. And then hey, they’re short here or, we got this store slammed. And so if you can get there in time to help great, but a lot of times you show up after the fact, but they don’t have dishes stacked to the ceiling. And you’re like, I’ll wash all these dishes. Don’t worry about that. But
The beauty of the two jobs, as long as I got my cell phone in my pocket, and I wear hearing aids, but they double as Bluetooth devices. So someone can literally call me and want to talk about a teaming or, capture management or, going after an opportunity. And I’ll have that conversation while I’m washing dishes, and I can be discussing a 150 million dollar contract and how we’re going to win it and develop, and win themes while I’m washing dishes and dry, and filling ice and you know, getting more sugar or, replacing or, prepping.
You can sit at a table and you know, prep peanut butter or, lettuce or, chicken or, whatever is needed, sliced tomatoes, you just do it. And the whole time I’m talking to you, but nobody, people can only hear my side of the conversation. So sometimes it gets a little weird for me. You know, but
You ever mix them up like, somebody wants to train an army and you’re like, yes, man, I’ll get some bananas to you.
Yes, every once in a while, like, now I had a call today with Tropical Smoothie about some marketing things they wanted to do. And I’m not happy with like, we’re having supply chain shortages right now. Right. This week, I got no tortillas and no pineapples. Well, I was able to source it locally. But
Then Tropical Smoothie runs a big promo on racks. And so I go, I said, look you all. You in operations got to talk to each other. I said, because I don’t have any tortillas, and you’re now offering wraps for half price. I said that just doesn’t make any sense. And she’s like, well, these are national programs. I said well then tailor them based on supply chain shortages. And I said we just, I said look, I understand bargaining and I understand your job, and your job is to make money for corporate. Not worry about me. I get that.
I said, I’m your client too, and I just need your help. That’s all I’m asking you, to not do your job. I just need your help a little bit. And they pretend, and this was a she was a smart young lady. Maybe some will come from it. But I’ll tell you Tropical Smoothie as they are supposed to, they guard their brand they don’t you know, the recipes work, do the recipes. So what’s approved in the store don’t sell anything, and I get that and I understand that, and I frankly, I respect him. It just I’m hard-headed, and I think
You found Dave another chain of command. You are a company commander.
But I’ll tell you what though you are right 100% right, but I’ll tell you this though, it’s like being a team leader in Uganda, where your chain of command is sockier and for brag
Yes, they’re a little bit removed from the process.
They’re not there. You’re the guy until they show up.
When they show up, and you guys say, Ok, you take them around, and we get inspected both for the Government inspect us, for health regulation of compliance, and then Tropical Smoothie Inspects for an additional layer of safety as well as TTPs compliance. And when they show up, you cater to them and make sure that they get whatever they need. Sure I give them back.
I don’t do shave. That’s why you doing an argue [phonetic] same commands come in, everybody get really big beard.
Well that was funny because when I was in Afghanistan as a running operations because the notes, when I went back so, for six months in 02 January to June 02 running operations. Everybody was wearing beard. So there was not worry about shaving. But yes, I heard all the stories about Channing Command’s coming who’s going to brief them. Draw straws or, team leader time to shave because you’re the man, you’re the spokes person or, spokes model. We work our *sses off. Man I’m not going to lie to you.
Would you recommend? Ok, let’s put it this way. I get calls and emails from people trying to recruit me into franchisee programs quite frequently and I believe it could be, because I have an MBA, it could be because I’m not.
Congratulations to you man.
Thank you. But I’ve heard that many Veterans get these calls. And I’m like, sounds like, a lots of fun
Veterans are prime targets because they know how to work and they know how to organize, to get things done. And so they represent less risk to the franchise Zord. You know, if they could, if a franchise business development individual business liaison, can recruit a Veteran, then they have a higher likelihood of being successful.
Is that quantified? I’d like to say it is. Let’s just say it is quantify that harvested
If I say yesterday to me like, cite your source and I’m like, Business Review. There you go [laughter] Dave Duffy memory, I said, but the quick answer is, yes, it’s been worth it. That’s the quick answer because I was making $5 a day on the farm as the team. And now,
we’re in real good shape. But you got it to bring your work boots man.
No, 100% it’s not going to be given to you.
Yes, bring your attitude. You got to be a good attitude.
I tell you, the only thing my wife and I were about the stores. There pros and cons to it. It’s hard running a business. It’s hard. But most things worth having or, doing in life are going to be hard. And the thing about, and the biggest benefit of a franchise is that, this is quantifiable, your chances of success are higher. So you open up a Tropical Smoothie Cafe, there’s over 1000 of them now. We open it was two by two 250 of them now. There’s over 1000
When you walk into a Tropical Smoothie, when you walk into a McDonald’s, you know what you’re going to get. You already know the menu. You know what you want, and you have an expectation what that’s going to be, and you went in there because I don’t have to see what’s on the menu. It’s always the same. Exactly, and as a consumer, it’s safer for you to go there because you know what you’re going to pay and you know, that you’re going to like it, by and large.
That’s part of your franchise arrangement, I pay 11% of my till goes to tropics smooth. Yes I’m a hitch but our stores last year our stores did 3.3 million in sales. And it was, it’s hard work, it never ends. But when you got money in your bank account, and you’re able to pre-covered, able to go on a vacation. You can drive a nice vehicle, you can live in a nice house, your kids are going to have opportunities, if they choose to take it or take advantage of it. That’s what we all try to do. I try to remind myself of that, when the day is just h*llish, when you got social people giving you one stars on social media, when you got people screaming at you and calling you a racist in the store or, just calling you names or, whatever.
I had, a woman call my wife, dam C word and it’s just amazing. And then you’re stressing about a catering, did everything, was everything right? Or, you forgot something? And how are we going to do this? And then it’s like, man, do we want to keep doing this, and my wife and I’ve had that conversation so many times. But it’s become who we are. I mean, we’re known that there’re eight stores currently in try and Columbia, South Carolina, we were the first three. We’re known. People, know us as Tropical Smoothie, not the other franchises, and we do all the support for the university.
I enjoy taking food and smoothies to the Gamecocks softball team. You know, I enjoy supporting a football team. And during winter practice, I take 175 24 hours of these on a Tuesday night at 8:30. So when I got off the field it was waiting for. And you get to know staff and the Strength Coach for the basketball teams is a good friend of mine, and it’s just your way of become a part of the community. And I don’t want to do it forever. I mean, I’m 57 years old. I don’t want to do it forever. But we’re not ready to quit. We’re just not.
Do what you can, while you have energy Dave [laughter]
My dad says you got to make hay while the sun shining. Well, the sun still shining. So we got to keep hustling with it. And I enjoy the hustle part of it. It’s just that sometimes it just wears you out. And then if one spouse is having a bad day, then it’s Ok. If the other ones can cover, but when both of you are frustrated or, tired or, angry. The best thing you do is try to remember not to take it out on each other. Although you’re the only two you have to take it out. My wife’s better about it than me, but I’m still I’m trying.
Well, that’s what you can do.
Yes, but it’s been a good. I mean, we you know, it’s
How often do you call work food dinner? [laughter]
I well, I didn’t have it tonight. We had leftovers tonight. And there was a causes, I’ll bring mistakes home. I made the sandwich. They said no tomato. I put a tomato on it. I’m like wrap it up. That’s my lunch. So we’ll do that. But I have guys that call me up.
Guys I start with asking questions about the franchise world. I speak to the business classes at University of South Carolina about franchising or, being a small business owner. All that’s involved with it because there’s so much involved with it, you’re the last one to get paid. And
As long as there’s a little bit left on the end of it, but I, it’s not a bad but here’s like anything else, man. You know, you can do, you got to have the right location, you got to have the right product. And you got to have the right people. And it’s easy to get one of those wrong and it really is. I said, I had two businesses that didn’t work. So it’s not like I’m, I got the Midas touch. I don’t know sh*t happens
You’re brave for getting out there and doing that. I know a couple entrepreneurs here in the town I live, and they’re both SF guys, f*cking fantastic. Actually, three or four SF guys, and they’re all doing great. And one of them has turned his small store. He ended up changing it into, he bought a basically, bought a franchise. It was a shoe store. And now it’s now it’s under a franchise but they’re doing great and
Well, you can’t be afraid. Now I tell people I said, don’t be reckless. When I talk to these classes, I said, look, don’t be afraid but don’t be reckless. But take reasonable risks, mitigate it as best you can, then flip and go for it man. I tell people I said, look, I’ve been broke twice in my life. H*ll, as an 05 I slept in my truck for 10 days. I mean, it’s okay. But I don’t ever want to be broke again, but I’m not afraid of. And do that, and then just work smart. Which SF guys like to brag about we work smarter, not harder. But sometimes working smart means you got to work hard. But you got to hustle.
You got to hustle and you’ve learned it. And yes, Dave
Cliff we’ve talked for a long time brother. I appreciate your patience with me [laughter]
I was thinking do I need to go to a Defense Contractor which wouldn’t have been bad except? I wanted to stay home. But if you don’t know what’s out there and you don’t know somebody or, you don’t have somebody to ask, then becomes more difficult. So I hope with your permission will in the show notes, we’ll put your LinkedIn or whatever you got. Veteran has a question for you.
I loved it. I loved every minute of it. And I appreciate you coming on the Return to Base Podcast and given us your knowledge and your advice, and experience. And you know, we do a lot of these Podcasts because quite frankly, many Veterans myself included and got out, and I don’t even know what’s out there dude?
Yes, tell them to reach out to me. I do it all the time. And if I can help it Lord knows there’ve been so many people that have helped me along the way. If I go pay it forward any, yes, absolutely not a problem.
Well, yes, we appreciate you and just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep your head up [crosstalk] I’m just trying to float here, man and I’ve never been a good floater.
I just know my throat dry as h*ll. I got to go get Guinness man
There you go.
I thoroughly enjoyed man.
Yes I appreciate it. Ladies and gentlemen, the incomparable Lieutenant Colonel, retired Dave Duffy.
Thank you [music]
All right, so thank you for joining us for this episode of Return to Base that of course, was Dave Duffy, a retired Special Forces Officer turned franchise owner, Government Contractor. It just goes to show you that there’re many different paths that a Veteran can choose. Sometimes they choose us, be quite honest, but we’re not pigeon-holed into one thing or another.
Dave’s interesting because many of us think that our careers will end up being some type of Government Service or, Defense Contracting, and very much so. They’ve followed that path but then in a different way, and then of course, going from a patron to the owner of a couple Tropical Smoothie franchises. It’s an interesting case study when you look at it. Does a Special Forces Officer fit the profile of somebody who is going to own a Tropical Smoothie? I didn’t think so. But you know, why not? Right
We have somebody who number one takes ownership. Number two, is able to set about a plan and achieve those results that they’re after and just somebody who works really hard, right. That describes many Veterans out there in the community and probably, most Veterans, at least most Veterans that I know. So the world is open for your exploration. Find something that makes you happy, and you’ll be more fulfilled for it.
I don’t think I could ever own a franchise. It’s just not something that, I’m particularly interested in. But I don’t think that Dave set out to own a franchise at first either. But he opened his mind to the possibility and look, he’s happy. He’s living the life. Of course, you know, it goes along with, does he work for himself or, does he work for somebody else? A little bit of both right. So congratulations to Dave on his success and for everybody else. I hope you’ll join us for the next episode of Return to Base which should be coming out in another two weeks. Until then, have a great week.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast using whatever podcast service you listened to us on. We’d really appreciate it. Visit VeteranLife.com when you get a chance, read some of our blogs, make some comments, and share it with your friends. Until next time! Have a great day.
This is RTB signing off.
Check out our previous podcast: Return to Base Podcast Ep. #14: Seth Eisenberg