Don Gatzemeier, a former aerospace engineer and current franchisee, started his journey in the franchising world with Elements Massage. After growing to own locations with Club Pilates and Amazing Lash, Gatzemeier learned of an area developer role with Main Squeeze Juice Co.
As he approaches retirement, Gatzemeier says he’s looking for more passive models. Now, partnered with Shawnae Stollenwerk, who also manages all of his Amazing Lash locations, Gatzemeier will be leading Main Squeeze’s entry to Arizona.
1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?
Gatzemeier: I was an aerospace engineer for about 25 years, and in 2011, I left the corporate world to do consulting work. In 2012, I discovered franchising and started looking into it. I signed my first franchise agreement in October 2012 and opened my first Elements Massage in June 2013. From there, I grew to four Elements Massage locations and opened three Club Pilates locations. In 2020, I acquired seven Amazing Lash studios and acquired an eighth last year.
When I left the corporate world, I told my buddies that I was thinking about going into franchising, and they all thought I was nuts. But I had moved around between three corporate companies, so I didn’t have a great retirement fund outside of my 401k. I looked into franchising as a way to develop a sort of pension generator in retirement. At some point in the next five to eight years, I’ll exit the individual store ownership. That’s why the area developer role with Main Squeeze made so much sense to me; it allows me to be more of a consultant and mentor. My biggest motivator was to build something and be self-sufficient throughout retirement, and franchising has given me that opportunity.
1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?
Gatzemeier: I didn’t know very many people in the franchising world before I got into it, but I grew up on a small farm in Montana, which was kind of like a small business itself. I went into franchising because I didn’t want to recreate the wheel. I like franchising because you follow a recipe. If there’s a good model, and you have the right operator, you can put it in any market, and it’ll be successful.
I’m now looking to sell about 75% of my Club Pilates ownership to my current managers, so I have an interest in sharing my knowledge and experiences in franchising with other people. The biggest thing I would advise people to do is drive top-line revenue. I find that to be the most important part. The cost is important, but top-line is more important. If you can drive your top-line revenue, you’ll outpace any cost-saving venture you’re trying to incorporate.
1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?
Gatzemeier: I have connections with people at Conscious Capital Growth, who is an investor in Main Squeeze. I had lunch with someone there when I decided to look at more investment options, and she suggested I look into becoming an area developer. It made sense, so I decided to partner with Shawnae Stollenwerk, who manages all of my Amazing Lash studios.
The opportunity is exciting because the active, outdoor lifestyle is a big deal in Arizona. People are really health-conscious, and I’m already in the health, wellness and beauty space. It’s kind of a natural fit. I’m also looking forward to the new challenge of introducing a brand to a state it’s never been in before. Main Squeeze juices are far superior to any of the juices I’ve had locally, so I think we’re bringing something really special to the market.
1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth?
Gatzemeier: I hope to achieve a franchise system with Main Squeeze in Arizona that will compete with or outperform the other juice companies in the state. I think we provide a service that is unmatched.
Our goal is to open one location this year and three to five each following year until the whole state is developed.
1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?
Gatzemeier: I’m an engineer, and I didn’t realize that the skillsets of an engineer would translate so well into business ownership.
1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?
Gatzemeier: What drove me to franchising was the business model. Some people get passionate about the product, and I would say to temper your passion for the product itself. Make sure you understand the business model and are able to execute that side of things. I’ve seen people who get caught up in the passion and lose sight of the big picture. They’re not driving the right KPIs.
ABOUT MAIN SQUEEZE JUICE CO.
Main Squeeze Juice Co. is a fast-casual juice and smoothie bar concept based out of New Orleans, Louisiana. The original Main Squeeze was built in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2017, and its immediate success attracted the attention of CEO Thomas Nieto. After taste testing Main Squeeze Juice Co.'s incredible juices and smoothies, he was sold on the spot – and the rest is history. Main Squeeze Juice Co. is committed to always serving the highest quality and most nutritious non-pasteurized, non-HPP’d cold-pressed juices, handcrafted superfood smoothies, organic and wild-harvested bowls and other healthy food items we can find, and to do so using the most responsibly grown produce packed into the most eco-friendly containers possible, while helping as many people as we can fulfill their nutritional goals in the most convenient manner imaginable. We will always strive to help others in Making Healthy Easier®. For more information check out www.mainsqueezefranchise.com.
Posted on: June 4th, 2023
On: Press Release
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