Carl Dissette knows what he wants--independence and the freedom to establish his own territory. Realizing the corporate world wouldn't give him those things, he opened two Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shops franchises in the Chicago area in 1996.
Dissette, 39, spent his 20s working in the food industry at the corporate level--he was regional vice president of a coffee-roasting company by age 27. Still, even with the success and job offers his high-demand sales and management skills were bringing in from all sides, Dissette couldn't reconcile himself to the fate many colleagues suffered. "I looked at how the corporate world hired people, ground them up and spat them out," he says.
"I was [young] and had this ability and talent," he says. "I thought, 'I could make some corporation a lot of money, or I could make myself a lot of money.'"
He tried his hand at a diner-type franchise and an independent champagne and caviar bar in Chicago before settling on the Jimmy John's system. Now with 2002 sales estimates at about $3.5 million for his six stores, Dissette continues to push past all boundaries. "[Corporate America] is extremely restrictive to an aggressive, fast-track person, which I was and am," he says. "Guess what? I love my job. I love being my own boss."