Growing up in a small town, Fowler, in California’s farming region, Paul Bessey traveled across the entire country to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD for his college education. Upon graduating four years later, he began what would become nine years of valued service as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After almost a decade that consisted of being stationed all around the world, including a year of combat in Vietnam, Bessey eventually made the decision to leave the military in order to spend more time with his new family.
Building upon his esteemed military background, Bessey embarked on a successful business career, first in a sales role at IBM, and eventually spending roughly 10 years growing JD Edwards’ (now Oracle’s) business in the Chicago-area, retiring once the company went public. Turning his focus toward a second career that would involve him running his own business, Bessey and his son, Brian, became franchise owners in the Batteries Plus system in 2002.
Almost immediately, they were operating three stores in the metro-Chicago region, opening one in Naperville and buying two more, in Oak Lawn and Lake Zurich. Having ramped-up quickly, learning along the way and “still learning”, according to Bessey, he and Brian now own and operate five locations in and around Chicago, employing a staff of 35 people across their multiple stores.
Bessey explains the similarities between the hierarchical chain of command in his current business in comparison to how it was with roughly 200 service men and women reporting to him when he was an officer in the Marines:
The structures are very much the same. In the military you have a few reporting officers who you provide with the orders to deliver to their subordinates, while in the stores you have managers with similar roles. However, in the end, even though you can always delegate authority, you can’t delegate responsibility. Ultimately, as the business owner, the buck stops with you, and you have to be able to put the right people in the right places so you can trust that they’re going to get the job done.”
In both scenarios, Bessey remarks that an important part of being in charge of an organization is finding skilled, hard-working people to put in management positions. He searches for candidates who have attributes similar to those he honed during his years at the Naval Academy and in the military, namely self-discipline:
One of the biggest challenges is discovering good employees that possess the self-discipline needed to effectively manage a store, its staff and its day-to-day operations. An even bigger challenge is trying to retain them in a highly competitive job market. The good part about the military is that they keep providing you with quality people to work with. Finding them in the workforce is much more difficult, but I still enjoy training new managers and preparing them for success.”
Paul Bessey’s business is one of 22 veteran franchise owner groups to own and operate 54 different store locations throughout the Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise system. Utilizing their specialized training, leadership skills and overall management and execution abilities gained through their military service, they are essential members of this thriving organization. As a business, we are proud to be recognized as a Military Friendly Franchise® for each of the past four years; we are grateful for our veteran owners’ and employees’ invaluable service to our country, and we are thankful for their continued contribution to the success of this company.
Batteries Plus Bulbs, founded in 1988 and headquartered in Hartland, WI, is a leading omni-channel retailer of batteries, light bulbs and smartphone repair services for the direct-to-consumer and commercial channels.Through a nationwide network of stores, the Company offers a differentiated value proposition of unrivaled product selection, in-stock availability and customer service.
Batteries Plus Bulbs is owned by Freeman Spogli, a private equity firm based in Los Angeles and New York City. To learn more about one of Forbes® Top 10 Best Franchises in America for the past three years, visit Batteries Plus Bulbs Franchise