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Sam Osborne had enough courage to join the Air Force during wartime, but the thought of working for someone else had him shaking in his boots. After serving in Desert Storm, Osborne pursued a business management degree from Florida State University while running a successful personal training service on the side. During a training session, one of his clients mentioned that he was putting together a smoothie shop franchise business. Osborne saw his opportunity.
Today, Osborne, 32, owns four Tropical Smoothie Café franchises in the Tallahassee, Florida, area. He's also the Orlando/Gainesville area sales developer, assisting new franchisees and inspiring them with his contagious enthusiasm for the company. "Aside from hitting the Powerball lottery," he says, "I couldn't imagine doing anything else."
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Though his four stores have each generated impressive annual sales ranging from $200,000 to nearly $500,000, he has no plans to expand in the near future. His current focus is "taking the things I've learned in the past six to seven years and pushing that with new franchisees. That's where I'll be a bigger help."
Osborne credits his success to a little luck and lots of persistence. He laughs at his attempts to secure a loan back in 1997 for his first Tropical Smoothie Caf�. "I was turned down by four banks," he recalls. "They didn't know what a smoothie was." Things have certainly changed in the past seven years, as America's interest in healthy eating continues to grow. In 2000, Tropical Smoothie Caf� began serving sandwiches, wraps and salads along with their signature smoothies. Shortly thereafter, they secured a deal with Boar's Head Provisions Co. to exclusively use their meat and cheese products-and to advertise that fact. The Boar's Head brand recognition caused a huge jump in sales.
Apparently, franchisees have been taking notice. There are currently 140 Tropical Smoothie Caf�s nationwide, with plans to open 40 more this year. With the demand for healthy fast food on the rise, Osborne feels confident he is "right in the middle of a really good thing."