by Edie Weinstein
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The vivid green camo vehicles out on regional roads bear the image of a grumpy get’er done looking bulldog and the words JDog Junk Removal and Hauling emblazoned on its surface.
The Berwyn based company whose clientele range from homeowners who want a sofa removed from their living room to general contractors who call on them on a consistent basis to clean up building sites, was started by Jerry Flanagan, whose nickname JDog, became the appellation of the company. Flanagan served two years in the Army and then discovered that many veterans often struggle with finding well paid jobs after discharge.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported “The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001—a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans—declined by 1.4 percentage points over the year to 5.8 percent in 2015. The unemployment rate for male veterans was 4.5 percent. The rate for female veterans was 5.4 percent.”
Flanagan’s company opened its doors in 2011 and developed a stellar reputation for the incredible work ethic of him and its staff, as a result of the values that the military taught them, such as discipline, reliability and integrity. He found that it set them apart from other companies in the field.
Another aspect of the business is that all of their franchisees who have the opportunity to purchase the rights to use the name as of September of 2014, are all military personnel or family members of those who have served.
According to Vice President of Operations, James O’Flaherty, “There are 66 locations in 26 states. There are four active in Montgomery County that are owned by Stacey Fitzpatrick, Mike O’Neill, Bill Read and Steve Devaux. Jerry is CEO and his wife Tracy assists franchisees in bringing suitable employees on board.”
O’Flaherty was a Marine Captain stationed at Camp Lejeune as an Artillery Officer and was deployed a few times to Afghanistan. He was recruited for the position by a retired Two Star General who was on the board of advisors of JDog. Although anyone in that branch of the military will say there is no such thing as a former Marine, he left active duty in August, 2015 and moved to Pennsylvania from North Carolina.
His own awareness of the challenges returning veterans face, informs his role in the company. For many, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) runs rampant. He says, “Our minds are not broken, our hearts are.”
Perhaps finding rewarding work and feeling purposeful are two aspects of healing those hearts.
The driving force behind having military vets and families as franchisees?
O’Flaherty responds, “It’s never been done before which boggles my mind. There are values and intangibles that military vets have. Fortune 500 companies will soak up vets because of those values. We want to employ as many as we can. He references their vision of #10,000veterans, which focuses on hiring at least that many returning military personnel.
He wrote testimony for The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the topic: Best Practice Among Hiring Vets as a way of reinforcing the crucial needs of the veterans and the benefits to companies who employ them.
O’Flaherty adds, “They (veterans) speak the same language. These people are adaptable and their ability to thrive in uncertain situations make them great candidates for opening a small business. They are a huge asset.”
JDog is registered as a Veteran Owned Small Business. – (VOSB) with Small Business Administration. O’Flaherty shares, “We can pick up at federal instillations as a result. We train and mentor business owners to be successful and help locate other vets.”
According to O’Flaherty, “The items are donated and repurposed as much as possible. Habitat for Humanity and Veterans’ charities often receive donations from the company.”
To learn more about this doggedly determined business, engage their service, inquire about employment or being a franchisee, visit JDog’s website.