Chip Rankin was recently honored with a 2014 Franchisee of the Year Award from the International Franchise Association (IFA), an international organization that promotes franchise business best practices for its members.
Rankin owns and manages MilliCare by EBC, a Delaware-based carpet and textile cleaning company. The company is responsible for 90 employees in the area who care for 100 million square feet of carpet in more than 800 facilities. His method of running a franchise incorporates many of his positive personality traits and the two things that are most important to him: happiness and trust.
DBT Staff Writer Rana Fayez conducted this interview earlier this month.
How did you get started with the company?
I’m located in the Newport-Stanton area. This is our first office. We have four offices throughout the mid-Atlantic area, but I spend most of my time in Delaware. We came out here and followed my wife’s career. She was a research chemist with DuPont. I started out as a salesperson with this company in 1991, and then I served as general manager.
Then I got the chance to buy the company in 1998. Every MilliCare company in the United States co-brands between the name of your company and the franchise. It’s not unlike other franchises.
Have you always been an entrepreneur?
[Laughs] I actually don’t consider myself one, I bought a company that was pretty successful. It had a great structure and I built on some really key ideas that appealed to me. I knew they were working really well. I didn’t invent them, so I can’t take credit for that.
But I do take credit for taking a small company and making it bigger, tripling or quadrupling the size of it. I knew I wanted to run my own business one day, but I didn’t know I’d have the chance to purchase it. So I can chart my own course and sort of figure out when was the right time to step away. Whatever that is, I did know that much.
What inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
We just want our employees to be happy with where they work, being proud of their work is an important part of their lives. The technicians are basically salaried, so they can budget for their family life. They get benefits, and when you add all of that together, you create a place where people are happy to work. Then you have customers, and customers become regulars and then become friends. Then everyone’s happy.
What kind of work culture did you cultivate for your employees?
We have a pretty special franchise with a lot of very good business people in it. We happen to be one of the largest franchises in our network. We get together and share, and we give back to the rest of the network to make sure they’re growing with us. I do spend a lot of time on advisory councils that we host here for other franchisees.
The culture we’ve created here as a business helps us benefit from people who work with us for a very long time. The people that we find and we manage to keep and the way we try to keep them is all a part of the family atmosphere we create here. I don’t believe that you can be truly happy at home if the work isn’t happy, and you can’t be happy at work if the home isn’t happy.
Did you expect to win this honor?
It was a complete surprise. Our franchise, it’s sort of a new effort, but they were very involved with the IFA. This is one of the things that the organization does, offers to their members, to pick a franchisee of the year. They give this award out at this meeting they have in Washington, D. C., as a part of their effort to give their members a chance to talk on Capitol Hill. They also get to meet with legislators to talk issues facing franchisees, such as recent National Labor Relation Board actions and things they are considering. Not to do with the increased wages, I’m behind that effort and I like that effort.