As a member of the military, Ray Saucier's duty is to help his country, but when he got deployed to Iraq in October 2004 to serve as a military advisor to the new Iraqi army, he found he was the one in need of some urgent assistance. As the primary operator of his Critter Controlfranchise, he had no choice but to temporarily close his growing business--the main source of his family's income.
The franchise remained closed for nearly a year, but the Sauciers discovered they weren't alone in their battle. With help from corporate, which froze Saucier's obligations and took up a systemwide collection, Saucier and his family were able to survive the trying period. After being stationed in Fallujah, Mosul and Baghdad, Saucier returned home as a Bronze Star recipient in August 2005. He was happy to be back to serve the critter-control needs of southern Maine and select portions of eastern New Hampshire--a territory he had protected from unwanted skunk, moose and raccoon appearances since he opened the franchise in 2001.
Starting again has been difficult, but it has definitely been easier than starting over. Though Saucier estimates it will probably take another six months for him and his wife, Diane, 37, co-owner and office manager, to get the business completely back up to speed, they expect 2006 sales to exceed $200,000. Says Ray, 42, "Being deployed and having lived through some rocky times with being away, I can really appreciate and attest to [the fact] that if you're in a good franchise situation, you're in business for yourself, not by yourself."