Franchisee Lawrence King's Welcomemat Services business helps him to play a bigger role in his community.
Lawrence King and his wife, Sandy, moved to the U.S. from South Africa in pursuit of the American dream. The process was not easy, but after waiting 11 years for green cards to be approved and 16 years to become citizens, the Kings have finally settled in Northwest Orlando, Florida.
After a lifetime of travel, Lawrence was ready to make his community a home. This meant working with local residents and businesses and for that reason, Welcomemat Services was the perfect fit. In his business ventures with Welcomemat Services, King is able to become part of the community and help local business owners survive against the “big guys,” while providing friendly faces to newcomers in the community.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
We are originally from South Africa. It took 11 years for our green cards to be processed and 16 years to officially become American citizens. We became citizens last year in 2015. We chose to be here – we love the country and want create our own American dream. Sandy, my wife, and I are financial advisors and have been in the profession the past 16 years. I traveled to different markets that were known to be volatile and provided service to ex-pats in these areas, including Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Nigeria.
I had been traveling for much of my career, so a local business that works with the community is a nice change of pace. I came across Welcomemat Services when I was looking at starting my own business, and it seemed to fit exactly with what I wanted to pursue. The brand is entirely focused on local business helping other local businesses. We were in the process of becoming a part of the community and trying to enjoy success ourselves, so it only made sense to help other local businesses.
Why did you choose to become a franchisee with Welcomemat Services?
Welcomemat Services is a niche market. It’s measurable, targeted, and we’re doing two things: helping new families as neighbors and helping local businesses grow. I used to like moving into a new house because the neighbors would bring you a gift. That’s what we are doing through Welcomemat. I used to always say, if you are supporting a big multinational company, you are helping the CEO buy his second home. If you are helping a local business, you are helping that person send their kids to school.
What are some of the local businesses that you plan to work with?
We plan to work with salons, dentists, automotive services, dry cleaners, car washes, jewelry shops, family fitness, hardware stores, family medicine, pet boutiques, wine beverage stores, home furnishings, local grocers, florists and restaurants. Those seem to be the types of businesses that work best with our product. Generally, they are the local places that people stop after first moving to town. We have been here for six years and my wife is still looking for a salon. We really want to use the business as a platform to help others become comfortable in the community.
Realtor.com just named Orlando as one of the top ten places that Americans are moving. Have you noticed this surge in the population?
We live in the suburbs and have noticed a lot of multi-national companies have decided to move to the area. The city is in the process of building the Sand Rail, which is a commuter train that goes from our suburban area to Orlando, which I think will cause more people to move to this area.
What’s next for you and your business? Do you have any development/expansion plans with the brand?
After we establish our initial presence in our local area, we plan to explore expanding into other areas. We would love to grow our business in downtown Orlando.
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