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From Front Lines to Frontline Business: How This Franchisee's Military Experience Catapulted His Success with Fresh Coat

The painting brand's in-depth support and structured business model offer a fertile ground for veterans to flourish as entrepreneurs.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 10:10AM 05/22/24

Darren Mungkhalodom's military career took an unexpected turn when an injury cut short his dream of being an infantryman, but this setback was merely a prelude to a remarkable journey in the franchising world. Now, as a multi-unit franchise owner with Fresh Coat Painters, the industry-leading residential and commercial painting franchise with over 170 units, Mungkhalodom is on a whole new mission.

A Soldier’s Journey to Entrepreneurship

Mungkhalodom first joined the military in 2006 after being approached by a U.S. Army recruiter while working at a local liquor store. 

“I wanted to be a CIA field agent, but what enticed me was that the Army was offering a good amount of money,” said Mungkhalodom. “Long story short: I was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. I was a covert MOS [military occupational specialty] and found myself on the frontline.” 

Mungkhalodom was injured while overseas, which put a halt on his plans to reach the CIA. Instead, he returned to the civilian world and started working as an advanced management trainee in the corporate world.

“I was already strong on operations and sales because of those skill-sets you learn in the military,” said Mungkhalodom. “I was quick on my feet, ready for challenges. I also got my master’s degree in business during that time. After I graduated, I was tired of helping other people make their millions. I decided to jump both feet into opening my own business.”

The Support and Structure to Succeed

When Mungkhalodom decided to dive into entrepreneurship, franchising in the trade industry appeared as the logical step. 

“I wanted to invest in a model that had already proven successful,” he said. “Running a business is never going to be easy, I could see that from watching my bosses in the corporate world. I wanted to make sure my job would be providing a great service, not building a business model from scratch.”

After exploring various options, Mungkhalodom narrowed it down to three painting franchises, and Fresh Coat emerged as the winner. 

“The structure and support at Fresh Coat were perfectly aligned with what I was seeking,” he said. “It felt like the right place to leverage my skills. I could see the support they provided.”

So, Mungkhalodom signed on for two territories, eventually opening up his Rochester, New York, Fresh Coat in 2018. Today, his operation brings in over $1 million in annual sales. “We had our best year last year, and this year is shaping up to be even better,” he said.

The Veteran’s Edge in Franchising

Mungkhalodom attributes much of his success to the values and discipline ingrained in him during his military service. 

“I didn't have much of a painting background, it was all operations,” he said. “The honesty and integrity I practiced in the military are now integral to my business ethos. 

This commitment has not only set his Fresh Coat franchise apart but also enabled him to mentor team members and help other entrepreneurs thrive. Mungkhalodom opened a second territory in Florida this year, which is managed by a previous employee of his.

“My company culture is all about working with my employees as partners,” said Mungkhalodom. “I always knew this company was going to grow to a point that I couldn't sell it. So, I worked with a few team members to help me open the second location. That is going to be my strategy for growth moving forward. We want to open five to six territories one day”

Mungkhalodom's leadership style is also deeply influenced by his military background. He understands the importance of identifying strengths and weaknesses within his team, fostering an environment where everyone can step up and lead when needed. 

“I know as an owner, I can't do everything myself — I tried, but when I do that it limits my growth,” said Mungkhalodom. “Just like in the military, we have a chain of command and a culture of mutual support and training.”

Mungkhalodom’s journey from a soldier on the front lines to a successful Fresh Coat franchise owner is a testament to the way military skills can translate seamlessly into the franchising world. With a robust franchisee support infrastructure and a proven business model, the Fresh Coat system is made up of several veteran entrepreneurs.

“Overall, it was one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Mungkhalodom. “I don’t have to work for other people anymore. I brought the core values of the military to this business culture, both for customers and employees. Just like I am proud to be a veteran, I am proud to be a Fresh Coat owner.”

For veterans considering a similar path, Mungkhalodom says the Fresh Coat Painters franchise model is an exciting opportunity waiting to be seized. The team is looking for passionate and qualified entrepreneurs in markets like Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

For more information on franchising with Fresh Coat Painters, visit:

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.