After 14 years in the Navy, Reynaldo “Ray” Pinlac’s service in the military paid off in an unexpected way.
Rather than needing to come up with the $75,000 fee to open a Budget Blinds franchise, the fee was waived as part of a new company program for veterans called Troops in Transition, specifically designed to help veterans re-enter the civilian workforce.
Pinlac, 37, qualified for the program and in June became the owner of his own Budget Blinds, a home-based business that sells and installs window applications, such as blinds, shutters and drapes. His service area includes west Olympia and Tumwater, he said.
Pinlac is one of five veterans to take advantage of the program since it was launched in January.
“You don’t get this kind of opportunity very often,” he said.
But he isn’t a complete stranger to Budget Blinds, the Orange, California, company that created and supports the franchises.
After he left the Navy as a laboratory technician and hospital corpsman, and deciding not to pursue medicine further, his girlfriend introduced him to Amber Koebberling, her aunt and longtime owner of the Budget Blinds franchise in Lacey. She’s owned it for more than 10 years and hired Pinlac to be a part-time installer for just under a year, she said.
Now a franchise owner, Pinlac also is receiving guidance from Mark Huckins, a franchise development liaison for the company.
Other resources include Koebberling, vendor field reps in the area — two vendors have sponsored the Troops in Transition program — as well as in-house coaches at Budget Blinds, he said.
Although the Troops in Transition program is new, existing franchises owned by veterans total about 10 percent, Huckins said. Formed in 1993, Budget Blinds has grown to more than 960 franchises in U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“He’s right on track,” Huckins said, adding that Pinlac’s customer service experience, whether as a lab tech or as an installer, is paying off for him.
“He’s a most pleasing young man and the customers love it,” Huckins said. “He’s already exceeding expectations.”
The selling points of a Budget Blinds’ franchise, according to company information:
▪ Single territory average sales of $523,514 and average gross profit margin of 52 percent.
▪ More than $10 million in national advertising to drive leads to franchise owners annually.
Franchise owner: Reynaldo “Ray” Pinlac.
Location: Pinlac lives in Yelm, but his service area is west Olympia and Tumwater.
Years in business: Pinlac became a franchise owner in June.
Type of business: Budget Blinds sells and installs window applications: blinds, shutters, drapes and window film, tinting windows for increased security, privacy or to protect furniture from sunlight.
Online: Budgetblinds.com. Customers can search by zip code to find Pinlac’s service area.
Did you know? Before Pinlac became a Budget Blinds’ franchise owner, he served in the Navy for 14 years, making stops in California, Illinois, Virginia, Japan and Washington state, finally finishing at the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He left the Navy as a laboratory technician and hospital corpsman. Originally from the Phillipines, Pinlac emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1996. He joined the Navy in 1999.