2024 Interview Series: A Masterpiece of Franchising – Karen VanGordon Paints a Story of Success

When you sit down to chat with Karen VanGordon, you immediately get the sense that her story is not just about business — it’s about passion, determination, and a deep desire to serve her community. With the help of David Omholt and The Entrepreneur Authority, Karen took a leap from corporate life into the world of franchising and ended up creating a masterpiece of a business with CertaPro Painters®, creating a legacy that’s as vibrant as the homes and businesses her franchise revitalized.

Charting New Territory: Transitioning into Franchise Ownership

It all started when Karen and her husband, Don, were at a career crossroads, grappling with the question, “What’s next?” After receiving what she described as her “goodbye package” following twenty-plus years in corporate leadership, Karen knew she wanted something else. That’s when she crossed paths with David Omholt. “I met David through the outplacement service,” Karen recalled. “I came home and said to my husband, ‘What do you think about if we buy a business and work together?’ And that’s where the journey started.”

Karen was very clear about what she was looking for in a business — it needed to be a franchise with a strong culture, processes, and structures already in place. There also had to be an opportunity in their market for growth that met their timeline for retirement. After exploring multiple options, Karen and Don landed on CertaPro Painters®, a franchise business specializing in residential and commercial painting services.

Cultivating Growth: Strategies for Expansion, Engagement, and Exit

Their business grew, not just in revenue but in stature, gaining a reputation for quality and trust. This wasn’t by accident. Karen’s strategy was clear from the start: “We had a 10-year plan; it was a 10-year license agreement. We said straight up front, that we’re not going to renew. We’re going to be done, and we’re going to retire.” Her business acumen, combined with CertaPro’s proven systems and processes, meant that their franchise’s growth was almost inevitable. “Our top-line revenue grew from previous customers and word-of-mouth referrals,” she proudly states. That’s a testament to building a strong reputation and speaks louder than any marketing pitch ever could.

In 2014 Karen was mentoring another local franchise, who expressed interest in buying their business. Guided by their 10-year plan, in 2016, she put together a rough framework of what they wanted their exit to look like, and prepare the business to get the highest sale possible.  In January 2018 they sold their CertaPro franchise, and she contracted to stay on board till December to assist with the transition. They had multiple offers, and very strong negotiations, and as Karen says, “our reputation and the brand sold it.”

Besides her business success with CertaPro, Karen also turned her franchise into a platform for mentorship and community involvement. She taught classes on entrepreneurship as a guest speaker at local high schools and was active in their local Chambers of Commerce community events and sponsorships. Karen and her husband didn’t just run a business — they were an integral part of their community and left a lasting impact on those around them.

Reflecting on Karen’s success, David Omholt said “What has always impressed me about Karen is how relationship-driven she is.  She’s not transactional; she’s committed to helping and being a value-add in all relationships. That’s her hard-wiring.  So it is no mystery that success has just followed her.”

Reflections on Entrepreneurship

Now, as she reflects on her journey, Karen offers a nugget of wisdom for those eyeing the franchise path: “You have to be real with yourself regarding your capabilities. And if you are in the space that you are working with a family member or partner, you have to really understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses and how you don’t sacrifice your relationship for business.”

To hear Karen tell it, David and The Entrepreneur Authority played an instrumental role in making their success a reality. “When we were in the final phases of deciding which franchise to go with, the key was David’s relationship with our recruiter and even the CEO from CertaPro. That was really key, and I think that speaks highly of him.”

TEA offers no-fee consultations, in addition to complimentary webinars on franchising. To schedule an appointment with a Franchise Consultant or register for a webinar, call 866-246-2884 or visit https://eAuth.com/webinars/.