Stepping up for the franchise owner


FAIRBANKS — A broken windshield right here in Alaska is responsible for launching my American Dream. Today, 4,000 miles away, a controversial new regulation created by Washington, D.C., bureaucrats threatens to destroy it.

My wife, Tamera, and I moved from West Virginia to North Pole when I was serving my country as a member of the Air Force, and we immediately made it our home. After I left the Air Force, I joined the Air National Guard so we could continue to put down roots in Alaska and plan for our family’s future.

We knew we wanted to start a family business, but it wasn’t until I had a bad experience getting some glass replaced that I realized our dream. We started small. Tamara and I invested $500 in a rock-chip kit, dug some windshields out of a Dumpster in town, and we spent hours around our kitchen table learning how to repair glass. 

For several years, we struggled to keep up with demand. Business was booming. By following the first rule in business — finding a need and filling it — we were able to contribute a valuable service to our community. In an effort to keep up with the growing demand, we decided to expand our operations and purchase a Glass Doctor franchise.

Becoming a franchisee in a successful nationwide company has many advantages, such as better buying power, national advertising campaigns, business software and training programs — and our business thrived because of the newfound support. Until recently, I could see no reason why we wouldn’t continue expanding and adding new jobs. 

When the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) changed the definition of what it means to be an employer in its Browning-Ferris decision, it seems impossible that they were thinking about the impact it would have on small businesses like mine.

Under the new joint employer standard, I have effectively been demoted from owner to manager of the business that I own. In adopting the new ambiguous “indirect” control standard, the NLRB stripped me of my autonomy and made Glass Doctor’s corporate office in Waco, Texas, the “boss” of my employees here in Alaska. And to what end? This new standard does not address a problem that ever truly existed, and it demonstrates a real lack of understanding by Washington, D.C., bureaucrats of the realities of operating a successful business on Main Street, U.S.A.

The case for protecting these local businesses could not be more compelling.

There are more than 780,000 franchise establishments employing nearly 9 million people in America today. Franchise businesses generate $890 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy, representing 3 percent of the gross domestic product. And they have grown faster than the U.S. economy for five consecutive years. Franchising is perhaps the most successful business model in American history. A franchise is a small business, its jobs cannot be outsourced and it provides economic opportunity for people from any background. Why is this not precisely the business model that every regulator and member of Congress supports? Isn’t the very nature of franchising — the sharing of ideas and knowledge, building off of each other’s successes and spreading the wealth to our fellow man — the very foundation of America and what makes our nation strong?

During the past decade, we have seen our nation fall into a deep recession and come out on the other side, thanks in large part to the contributions of small businesses. The new joint employer standard threatens that recovery and the businesses that have supported it — not only from an economic standpoint, but because of the undue burden it places on families trying to build futures and run successful businesses under the most confusing government rules and regulations.

 Just as I did in starting my glass repair business, members of the Congress have an opportunity today to see a problem and fix it. The bipartisan Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act would undo the damage caused by unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and support by our members of Congress would go a long way in reminding small business owners here in Alaska that their contributions to our communities are appreciated and understood. I am hopeful that Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan will support it.

Kevin Tennant is an Interior resident and owner of the local Glass Doctor franchise.

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