This Marine Turned Around Two Businesses Through Exceptional Leadership. Now They're Approaching a Combined $1 Million in Revenue. Luke Cain took what he learned about leadership and determination in the Marine Corps and applied it to his businesses. The result has been rapid growth.
- Luke Cain's decision to join the Marine Corps was deeply influenced by the tragic events of 9/11.
- Cain took a considerable risk transitioning from a stable job to entrepreneurship by buying a Mosquito Squad franchise.
- Cain values the improved quality of life franchising has offered him, especially in terms of spending quality time with his family.
Like many Americans, Luke Cain was deeply affected by the September 11 attacks, so much so that he felt compelled to do something for his country. "I'm from a small town in Georgia, and I graduated high school the same year 9/11 happened. I was living in Atlanta at the time. I came back home, met with a recruiter and said, 'I want to go,' and so that's what got me into the Marine Corps."
Marine to government contractor
Cain served for five years in the Marine Corps in the intelligence field, deploying overseas multiple times. In 2007, he was honorably discharged and went to work as a government contractor. Going from the rigid discipline of the Marine Corps to civilian life was a shock. "It was completely different money and a major lifestyle change," Cain says.
I graduated high school the same year 9/11 happened. I met with a recruiter and said, 'I want to go,' and so that's what got me into the Marine Corps.
Eventually, Cain started to feel the entrepreneurial itch. Starting around 2012, he began to keep an eye out for businesses to invest in. "It was something that I didn't enjoy anymore," he says of his contractor job. "I needed a little bit of structure and dedication. It's something that was embedded in me as a kid and reinforced in the Marine Corps."
In 2015, despite not having a business background or a college degree — and knowing next to nothing about mosquitos — he decided to delve intro franchising, purchasing a Mosquito Squad territory in Augusta, Georgia. Established in 2004 and franchising since 2005, Mosquito Squad is a prominent mosquito and tick control franchise that emphasizes a sustainable approach to mosquito control. Currently, Mosquito Squad operates in 230 franchises in 25 states.
But Cain was still not ready to make the full-time jump from a well-paid and secure government contracting role to entrepreneurship. "I had a good job," he says. "It was a huge risk." He continued to work while running the franchise.
He went to work incorporating something he learned in the Marines: Lead by example. "Any tasks his team is doing, he's done himself already," says Mosquito Squad's Vice President of Strategic Growth, Dr. Kurt Vancock. "Luke really being engaged at an operational level is important."
Risking everything and diving into franchising
By 2018, the Augusta franchise was growing rapidly, and Cain felt he had to decide whether to put his full energy into the business or not. "I cashed in my chips, I sold everything and said, 'I'm going all in.' I was cutting the umbilical cord, so to speak."
I cashed in my chips. I sold everything and said, 'I'm going all in.'
Cain's plan also focused on future growth from the start. "My whole plan was to prepare today for where I want to be tomorrow," he says. "So I wanted to be at a certain revenue point the next year." He began reinvesting as much as possible back into the business — and thinking about another territory.
Expanding to a second location
Cain had an eye out for a second franchise quickly."In the military terminology," says Vandock, "he probed the marketplace like you probe the enemy for a weakness."
In the military terminology, he's probing the marketplace like you probe the enemy for a weakness.
Cain bought a second location — this one in Columbia, South Carolina, — in November of 2021. The location's total revenue had been stagnant, around $500,000, for the previous five years. Cain was confident he could turn the territory around, just as he did in Augusta. He knew employee retainment was key as he took over the new territory. "More than 80% of the employees stayed," Cain says. "So with me investing the time and getting the processes and procedures in place, we grew 43% the first year."
Seasonality and regulation
One of the primary considerations for prospective mosquito control franchisees is the business's inherent seasonality. Given that the core service revolves around mosquitos, the demand can vary significantly based on the time of year.
Potential franchisees must also navigate a competitive landscape. Many areas might already have several mosquito control companies in operation. Furthermore, some jurisdictions have stringent regulations and licensing protocols for businesses in the pest control sector due to the powerful chemicals used. Keeping up compliance can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Better work/life balance
After working nonstop for the past few years, Cain is finally beginning to see some of the benefits of franchising, namely being your own boss. "I have a lot more time with my kids" compared to the government job, he says. "I coach my kids football team, go on all the field trips and all the holiday meals at school and stuff like that. I would say that's a that's a good thing. That was one of my reasons for franchising. I wanted my own family, and I wanted to be able to spend enough time with them."
Cain says he has a few territories on his radar, but his goal is to grow at a scalable pace, not for growth's sake. And, he says, there is still more expanding to be done in Georgia and South Carolina first. "Yes, I'd love to expand another territory," he says, "I have an idea of five locations eventually, but I don't think we've reached capacity on either one of the locations I already own."