Scott Bigelow | 910.521.6351 | firstname.lastname@example.org
University Communications and Marketing
Monday, October 31, 2005
Vance Houston offers primer for successful franchising
Entrepreneurship comes in many forms. For 1964 UNC Pembroke graduate Vance Houston, business success came in franchising.
The Rock Hill, S.C., businessman shared his business story with more than 100 students and faculty October 19 in a lecture at UNCP’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development.
Nineteen years ago with no money and no job, Houston proceeded to build a small business empire that includes 11 Subway restaurant franchises.
“I got in on the ground floor of Subway franchising when there were only about 1,000 stores,” he said. “We decided to buy two franchises, and both my children dropped out of college to work with me.”
With 40 years of success stories behind it, Subway has more than 22,000 stores. But, the key to working for yourself is work, Houston told a very attentive audience.
“For five years, I worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “If you don’t like to work, then you won’t own your own business, at least for very long.”
Houston, 69, said he still enjoys working for himself, but his son runs the day-to-day operations of Houston Enterprises, and he invests in commercial real estate.
Houston discussed franchising from A-to-Z, including start-up financing.
“My parents wouldn’t even lend me money,” he said. “I had a business plan under my arm, and every bank turned me down.”
A “bad situation” improved when Houston’s friends and family loaned him funds for his first two franchises, which cost $150,000 each in 1985. He advised students that banks and the Small Business Administration will work well with established franchises.
Houston offered advice on all aspects of franchising:
Vance Houston worked his way through college at UNCP.
“I lived in Chadbourn, and they let me pay weekly,” he said. “I worked all weekend and paid them something like $25 on Monday.”
After a successful career in textiles, he was fired.
“One day, they called me in and said they didn’t need me. I went home, and we cried a lot,” he said. “Eventually, I came to the realization that textile industry was dead.”
Houston gives several lectures a year on entrepreneurship and franchising. His appearance at UNCP was sponsored by UNCP’s School of Business, the MBA program and the Regional Center.
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