At PJ's Coffee, our commitment to honoring the sacrifices made by our nation's heroes goes beyond words—it's a mission we live by. We take immense pride in supporting veterans and recognizing the exceptional qualifications and skills they bring to the table. This year, we are thrilled to welcome U.S. Navy veteran Rob Smith to the PJ’s Coffee family as the well-deserved winner of our seventh annual Veteran Franchise License Giveaway.
Rob's journey to becoming a PJ's Coffee franchisee is a testament to the power of connections, passion and a shared vision for success. A close friend, also a fellow Navy veteran and PJ's franchisee, introduced Rob to the opportunity through our newsletter. The connection was instantaneous. Impressed by the business model and products that PJ’s Coffee offers to ensure a franchisee is successful, Rob also signed on for three additional licenses.
Passion Meets Purpose: Brewing Success in Maryland
Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Rob joined the U.S. Navy after completing his undergraduate studies in computer science at Kansas State University and Jackson State University. He credits his experiences in the Navy with developing leadership characteristics and other intangible skills that have been foundational strengths in his post-military career — he has served in supervisory and managerial capacities at small and large tech companies and finds gratification in the opportunity of leading people and strong team building. Additionally, Rob attends church regularly for spiritual fulfillment and enjoys physical fitness, martial arts training, singing and building relationships within his community.
His leadership philosophy and way of life, instilled through his military background and encapsulated in the acronym "POPPER" (Professionalism, Order, Processes and Procedures, Excellence, Relationships), reflects his commitment to fostering a positive, service-oriented and inclusive environment.
For Rob, owning a PJ's Coffee franchise is not just a business venture; it’s a calling to bring people together. His vision extends beyond a successful coffee shop — it’s about creating a haven for the community where people can relax, collaborate, find solace, and feel a sense of belonging, warmth and genuine connection.
“This seems like the perfect vehicle for how I imagine myself to ultimately be in life — to be able to bring people together from all different walks in the community,” Rob said. “A place where you know you’re going to be served well and treated well and be that place that the community looks to come to when it’s been a bad day or a long week. It’s been a mind-blowing, honorable process but also a huge blessing — a tremendous blessing.”
He plans to open his PJ’s Coffee franchise near his residence in Clinton, Maryland. His family, including his wife LaWanda and their two sons, Joshua and Gabriel, will play integral roles in the venture. LaWanda, with extensive banking and retail experience, will handle financial management and administration, while Rob focuses on building relationships with the community, including local churches and schools. The decision to involve their children in the business was a heartwarming surprise for the Smith family, with the general spirit of building a legacy.
Brewing Success for Veterans
As we congratulate Rob Smith on his well-deserved win, we remain dedicated to supporting veterans in their journey to franchise ownership. The annual Veteran Franchise License Giveaway remains a beacon of opportunity —it symbolizes a commitment to empowering veterans to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, allowing deserving veterans to fulfill their dreams within the thriving coffee industry.
However, our commitment to supporting veterans extends beyond the annual franchise giveaway. In fact, we were ranked #72 in Entrepreneur’s “2023 Top Franchises for Veterans,” and our U.S. Marine veteran franchisee Bobby Mounts shared his experiences of opening his own PJ’s Coffee.Our veteran franchisees like Bobby, Kyle McElhaney, Michael Adams and Angela Harmon have not only embraced the opportunity but have excelled within the PJ's Coffee system. The success stories of these veterans demonstrate the incredible potential and leadership skills that former military members bring to the franchise landscape.
To learn more about PJ’s Coffee and explore franchise opportunities, including our incentives for veterans, visit www.pjsfranchise.com/why-us/veterans.
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