How This Family Rebuilt Their Business After Devastating Losses

This story appears in the January 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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David Ogburn
Image Credit: Illustration by Alexandra Compain-Tossier

It was a blazing hot day in La Quinta, Calif., when David Ogburn pulled up to his house, sweaty from working at his swimming-pool maintenance and repair business. In his driveway was a Budget Blinds van, hired by his wife, Maryellen. David went inside and started talking to the franchise owners. Impressed, he thought buying a franchise could be a way to relocate and get out of the pool business.

His wife and two sons, Travis and Jeff, stayed behind in April 1995 while David moved to their chosen location in Reno, Nev., to start the franchise. By November, the business was generating enough income for the entire family to move north. Eventually, both sons came to work for the company, and the Ogburns expanded with three other Nevada franchises. Life was good.

But in early 2008, nerves set in. Orders were slipping as business slowed for the builders and decorators who made up the family’s primary customer base. Then, on July 2 of that year, tragedy struck: Jeff was killed in a head-on car crash. By October, the recession had taken its full toll, and the Ogburns’ lives were in shambles.

“Our business was dropping so fast, we couldn’t keep up,” David recalls. “At that point, we had a minimum of $100,000 going out every month, irrespective of cost of goods. That was just our fixed expenses.”

At the time, Budget Blinds was allowing franchisees to get out of their contracts and turn in their locations. The Ogburns laid off their employees, including Travis, and turned in two of their units. They lost their home and their savings. David, who was 60 at the time, thought he would never be able to retire. He didn’t know what to do next.

His turnaround, he says, came through a combination of faith, early signs of economic recovery in 2010 and a lucky contract that Budget Blinds corporate landed with major builder Lennar Corp. Sales began to climb, and eventually Travis came back to work for the company.

In 2014, the Ogburns won three awards at the Budget Blinds national convention—the most any franchisee has ever received. Travis worked with his parents to open a location in Las Vegas and began building out the territory there.

Over the past five years, the family’s business has grown to as much as $100,000 a month in sales with Lennar and the referrals it has created. Projected 2015 revenue is $5 million, and David can finally see himself “riding off into the sunset,” he says. He and Maryellen are making plans for handing over the reins in two to three years.

“We’ve now got three generations in the business,” he says, noting that Travis’ oldest son has signed on. “Now it’s just a matter of when the time is right.”

Edition: October 2016

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