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Young Ones to Watch: Justin Gordon, CEO of Amramp

Gordon spoke with 1851 Franchise to discuss how he successfully joined a business his father built and has continued its growth.

Justin Gordon is the CEO of Amramp, a franchise dedicated to making life accessible for everyone. Founded in 1998 by Julian Gordon, Amramp has become one of the nation’s leading providers of modular wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, vertical platform lifts and other accessibility solutions. Since then, the brand has grown to 50 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. With each wheelchair ramp, stairlift or other product installed, Amramp makes the world a little more accessible.

1851 Franchise spoke with Gordon to learn more about his story, what he loves about the franchising industry and how he thinks the industry has responded to COVID-19.

1851: How did you get into franchising?

Justin Gordon: Amramp is a family business — my father, Julian Gordon, founded the company 22 years ago. His first entrepreneurial genius was developing the product, and the second was deciding to franchise the concept in 2002. Since our concept is about making life better for our customers, franchising is a great, scalable way to bring that service to more and more people around the country. Over the years, I’ve worked in basically every position in the company and helped bring many franchisees into the system. Two months ago, I officially became the CEO of Amramp.

1851: What do you love about the industry?

Gordon: What I love most about the franchising industry is the ability to work with like-minded people. Through franchising, I get to work with tremendous people all around the country who share the same goal of bringing joy and happiness to those we serve. Customers are always telling us that we’ve made their life better or given them peace of mind, and being able to enjoy that positive feedback together with franchise owners is a real privilege. 

1851: What makes someone a good fit for the franchise industry? Are there traits that are shared by the most successful franchise professionals you know?

Gordon: Great franchises in our industry are caring, empathetic and driven. In any segment, the key to being a great franchisee is having a “why.” Prospects may have come from a corporate job and are looking to be their own boss, but they should also have a purpose or passion that extends beyond themselves. In any business, you are delivering a need or want that is making someone's day brighter, and with franchising, you get to do that while controlling your own destiny at the same time. 

1851: How do you feel about the industry's response to the coronavirus crisis so far? Are there challenges or opportunities that the industry still needs to address?

Gordon: The nice thing about being a franchisor or franchisee is that you can always expect strong communication. When COVID-19 hit, I was happy with how our team worked so closely together — we even had franchisees take the lead on the PPP loan process and share best practices across our network. It may be a cliche, but we are all in this together, and nowhere is that more relevant than in franchising. 

In terms of ongoing issues, the FTC has made it very challenging this year to discuss financials when creating the FDD. Understandably, there is a lot of red tape around financial representation because this year was so unique, and a lot of states are rejecting that part of the FDD in response. In our experience of creating the FDD this year, there was not a lot of clarity in the process. Our way around that issue was to encourage franchisees to call other established owners during the discovery process and ask them about how they are doing financially. 

1851: What advice do you have for other young up-and-comers in the space?

Gordon: Prospective franchisees need to make sure they really do their due diligence and connect with existing franchisees. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out multiple times. Even after you’ve signed on with a concept, don’t be afraid to keep reaching out to established owners who have been in the business for longer and who can share their expertise.