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Honor Roll

While most people their age were still finding their way in life, these franchisors were living their dreams.

This story appears in the July 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

They're younger than 40, raking in more than $3 million a year in franchisor revenue and living the good life. They're three of today's youngest franchisors, and they've made it big by around some of life's basic necessities: health-care staffing, Buffalo wings and junk removal.

As youths armed with a vision, they wasted no time in tackling life--and business. Now, after years and even decades of dedication and commitment, they stand tall at the helms of their empires. Wise beyond their years, they're savvy, feisty and have overcome all obstacles to prove that they're forces to be reckoned with. And best of all, they let us take a look at how they grew their businesses into franchises and how they plan to continue making an impact in their respective industries. Success is sweet--especially when you're still young enough to enjoy it.

Shelly Sun, 37, and JD Sun, 38
BrightStar Healthcare Shelly Sun and her husband, JD, started BrightStar Healthcare in 2002 and began franchising less than three years ago, but already the Chicago-based, full-service health-care staffing agency has grown to 45 locations across the U.S. and is expected to have 400 locations by the end of 2010. In addition, Shelly adds nonchalantly, they will be entering Canada later this year, and they foresee expansion into Asia, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe in the near future.

Such aggressive growth plans right off the bat would throw some entrepreneurs off course, but major growth was always part of the company's plans. And because Shelly was already a franchisee of Choice Hotels and Carlton Hotels, franchising seemed like the most natural route to grow the business. So when the timing felt right, she and JD took the big leap. "We had the model perfected, we had put $1 million into our technology, and we had a patent filed on our technology," says Shelly, who expects franchisor revenue and company-owned unit sales to total $11 million this year. "Everything was foundationally in place to begin to expand."

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