How I Helped Bring an International Franchise to the U.S.

How I Helped Bring an International Franchise to the U.S.
Image credit: Ken Adair
Ken Adair

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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

When Ken Adair became a Pirtek franchisee, his location in Chicago was only the fifth center in the U.S. Pirtek, a fluid power franchise, has since grown to 45 locations in the U.S., as well as nearly 400 locations internationally. Adair's location has grown over the years as well – nearly two decades later he still continues to add 30 to 40 new customers every month. Here's how Adair decided to help bring Pirtek to America. 

Name: Ken Adair

Franchise owned:  Pirtek O’Hare in Elk Grove Village, Ill.

How long have you owned a franchise?  

I have been a franchisee with Pirtek for 16 years.

Related: After Being Diagnosed With Cancer, This Entrepreneur Decided to Go Into Business With His Dad

Why franchising?   

Franchising provided me with a proven system to start my business from. It allowed me to reach my business goals quicker than if I had started on my own.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I was a commodity broker on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. I did that for almost 18 years.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I was looking for a service business that dealt in business to business services. After doing my due diligence I found Pirtek and was impressed by their system. I was one of the first franchisees when the brand expanded to the U.S.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?  

My total initial investment was $270,000. $100,000 of that in inventory, $5,000 in build out of our space and the rest was additional equipment and supplies.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

The franchisor was helpful. Since the company was originally started overseas, I wanted to make sure it could be sustainable here. I had a lot of talks with the overseas franchisees to get a better handle on this and hear about their experiences. I also used the internet and asked some potential customers if this business would fill a need for them.

Related: Why I Sold My Subway Shops to Open a Smoothie Franchise

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The greatest challenge is finding the right people to work with you on your business and keeping them for the long-term. This is something that all business owners have, but it’s not something you think about when you first get started.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Run the projected financials to find out what sort of investment you are really getting into, then double it. If you can handle that number go for it.

What’s next for you and your business?

My son has joined me in the business. With the fresh energy he brings we are in a position take the business to the next level, including more locations.

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