Chem-Dry Operator Goes from Owner to Tech and Back to Owner Again
Having a front-row seat to someone else’s success made a Chem-Dry technician realize that he was more than ready to own and operate his own franchise
Gary Atwell’s history with Chem-Dry has a lot of twists and turns, and like any good entrepreneurial story it comes with a happy ending. More to the point, this Chem-Dry cleaning franchise owner can talk about seeing the business from every angle and really mean it.
From 2002-2005, Gary operated a Chem-Dry franchise while also holding down another job, but when he and his family moved from Colorado Springs to Utah, they opted not to relocate their business. Rather, he chose to work for another Chem-Dry owner. And so his journey began.
Building a base of tech expertise
“I spent 10 years doing that, working as a tech and eventually taking on more and more duties,” Gary says. “It was valuable to see how someone else ran their business, and I felt like I played a large role in helping that franchise become and remain successful. But after a certain point, I began to want to be my own boss again.”
That led to some conversations with the Chem-Dry franchising team, who worked with Gary to see what the options were in his part of Utah, and then to explore an entirely new area, which meant he’d be relocating.
“I had nothing really keeping me there and wanted to go home to San Jose,” he says. “Chem-Dry worked with me to look at available franchise territories there, and really kept me informed on my options. I really appreciated that, and so I decided to make the move and get back into the ownership role again.”
New territory, new responsibilities and potential
Buying a house, settling back into his home turf and opening his Chem-Dry cleaning franchise took up the better part of March and April 2016, but now Gary can look back and evaluate his progress and plan next steps.
“I knew that things were expensive in this area, but that I could compete,” Gary says. “I learned how to figure out the slow and busy seasons in Utah, so I am doing the same thing here. That lets me work on different ways to market the Chem-Dry cleaning franchise services throughout the year successfully. I purchased four territories, because if I was going back into ownership I wanted to go big. That’s going to work to my advantage, because I can control my growth over a larger area, and most are exclusive to me.”
Plus, he adds, the new role comes with a familiar set of duties and a business model he’s very comfortable with.
“I have been doing this for 14 years now, and finally I can do it my way,” he says. “I like that I have the final say on the things that matter to me when it comes to running a business. I spent 22 years in the U.S. Army, and so I’ve been in charge of things for most of my working life. Chem-Dry has been a pretty good deal for me.”
Chem-Dry is the world’s largest carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise with nearly 3,500 franchises in 51 countries, serving 10,000 homes and businesses a day. Chem-Dry has been Entrepreneur magazine’s top-rated carpet cleaning franchise for 28 straight years. The Chem-Dry Hot Carbonated Extraction process delivers a faster-drying, deeper and more environmentally friendly clean that appeals to both home and business owners. In addition to carpet and area rugs, Chem-Dry provides tile and stone, granite countertops, leather and upholstery cleaning.