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Former Veteran Turned Youth Coach Opens First Amazing Athletes in Savannah

Presented with an opportunity he simply couldn’t turn down, Zach Erlandson joins forces with his cousin to coach the youth of America in various sports.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSOREDUpdated 3:15PM 07/08/22

Zach Erlandson has always lived a disciplined and active life. At the age of 17, he joined the National Guard and pursued a career in the military. For 13 years, he served in the fifth battalion 19th Special Forces Group in Colorado and across Europe. Recently his cousin, the president of Youth Athletes United, approached him with the opportunity to leave the military and become a business owner. Erlandson jumped at the offer to work on his own time and in a field of athleticism. Trading in the mountain life for the beach, he packed up and took over the Amazing Athletes location in Savannah this past March. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Zach Erlandson: Before franchising, I was in the military. I joined the Colorado Army National Guard when I was 17 and a junior in high school, and I did that up until age 30. I was with the fifth battalion 19th Special Forces Group my whole career and spent a majority of the years serving in Europe. And then I was presented with the opportunity to take over the savannah franchise location about six months ago, so I just took it and ran with it. I have family that lives on the east coast, so I was excited to live closer to them. It was one of those situations of the right opportunity and right timing, so naturally, it made sense for me to take it.

1851: What was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Erlandson: I honestly didn't really have any experience going into it. John Erlandson, my older cousin, is the president of the company, and I learned a lot about franchising from him. Now that I’m fully immersed in the job, I would say that it was one of the best decisions that I've ever made in my life, and it’s given me the ability to take over my own time. S,o I think that was the shift for me from being in the military and working on someone else’s time. If you want control of your time and business, franchising is the way to go.

1851: What makes you stand out as a business owner in your local community?

Erlandson: I come from a background of discipline and being active. Right now, I’m a hands-on coach and think most business owners are really behind the scenes of daily operations. Parents are meeting the name behind the business with me being directly involved. I’m new to Savannah, and I don’t have much skin in the game — I’m still making a name for myself here and immersing myself in the community. I’m not trying to build professional athletes at this level; I’m simply looking to get kids involved, learn the basics, and hopefully when they get to a higher level, I’ve built some team captains.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Erlandson: My family association with the brand is what got me in this position. He made it hard to say no. The tremendous support from the corporate level and my trip out to North Carolina to job shadow successful franchise owners ultimately made me go through with the offer. 

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Erlandson: My main focus is to get my name out in the community and make a positive impact on the youth. They come into my program for a year to two years and enjoy it and take it to heart. They are going to see great improvements not only in themselves but in the way that they can interact with the other kids and guides. It's the base building blocks for the beginning of their sports journey going into their life, and I feel like that's actually a special thing because you're giving them these experiences for the first time. For a lot of them, it's going to change their lives in a positive direction. Also, I hope to get my license to coach in South Carolina and serve the Hilton Head area.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Erlandson: Honestly, I feel like I would be lying if I just made up something. I’m still working on my story outside of the military. This is all new to me — the career, location, community and trading in the mountains for the beach life.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Erlandson: It's not a get-rich-quick scheme. Franchising allows you to work hard for yourself. And in the short term, if you do it right and you apply yourself in the beginning, you can set yourself up for success. This can be a very lucrative business for anybody that can control their time and be responsible with their obligations.