Dennis Corrigan is a retired Navy officer whose life began as the son of a Navy man. His father’s duty stations were all over the United States and he eventually went to high school in Hawaii where he received an academic scholarship to attend Auburn University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and met his college sweetheart and wife, Celeste. After graduation, Dennis went directly into the Navy, becoming a naval aviator and P-3 Orion pilot. Dennis and Celeste traveled around the world for 24 years with the Navy, even living for two years in Iceland, where there are no mosquitos! Dennis retired from the Navy in 1998 and worked as the president of a company that built flight, ship, and truck simulators. He retired from the company in May 2014.
Celeste was born in New York and is also a child of a Navy family. She spent her high school years in Orlando, Florida and then left to attend school at Auburn University. Moving around the world with her husband, Celeste had jobs in early childhood education, primarily teaching and managing daycare centers for military families. Celeste is very involved in supporting local charities such as the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry, the Greater Prince William Food Council, and the Dominion Woman’s Club.
Dennis and Celeste wanted a business that they could build together for themselves and their family, but also did not want to start from scratch. Together they decided to take the franchise approach, and Mosquito Joe became their No. 1 choice through their research process.
Most recently, we had the chance to catch up with Dennis to learn more about why he got into franchising, his secrets to great leadership and his advice for other veteran entrepreneurs.
How did your military service prepare you for franchising?
The elements of being a military person gave me a sense of discipline and the ability to organize efforts. It also gave me the leadership experience to direct a group of folks in a manner that produces teamwork among my technicians, applicators and office managers. With 24 years of experience in doing that in the military, it really prepared me for business.
What is it about your brand that attracted you?
Mosquito Joe’s brand is all about ‘customer experience improvement’. We’re about making the ‘outside fun again’, ‘stopping people from having to slap themselves in the face’ and ‘giving blood at a blood bank, not in their backyard’. Our business puts a smile on our customer’s faces, and our brand is also all about results. It’s great to be a part of an organization that creates a culture to make sure that every customer is seeing results and satisfied.
What advice would you give to veterans who are looking to get into franchising?
The most important thing, just like with a military career, is to know what your capabilities, resources and objectives are. You have to “own” your job just like we are trained to do in military. It’s also important to know what you’re stepping up to. As a franchisee I know that our corporate office has thought through everything we need to do…so, we have been confident from the first day that if we follow the tried and true procedures we will be successful. Mosquito Joe has been everything we hoped for and they have done a great job getting us started and continue to be at our side in our second year.
What does franchising mean to you?
It’s a chance for my wife and I to build something of our own. What we’ve done in the past has included others, like protecting our country and our freedoms. But this endeavor, our leap of faith to be a franchise owner, we know it’s something we can put our hearts, skills and passion into and we will be successful. We also know it’s something we can pass down to our children one day, or someone else; and that’s really special to us.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
What is really cool about the Mosquito Joe brand is that it has an ultimate outcome of protecting people as well. At first our decision was because of the fun of the brand and franchise prospect. But we know now that there are ultimate health threats that involve ticks and mosquitos. We’re hoping to build our business to be a significant factor in our local area and help protect the 28,000 families in our territory.