How veteran business owners are navigating the coronavirus pandemic with military precision

Julia LeDoux
March 27, 2020 - 1:02 pm

Vets Haul Junk

Joe Martinez, the founder of Vets Haul Junk, has some advice for his fellow veteran business owners as the economic realities of the coronavirus pandemic settle in across the United States.

Use your military experience and skills to help you chart a course to a  secure financial future even in these turbulent times. (is this a quote?)

"We created a team and business model that reflects our military training," he said.

Martinez is an Army veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD following his service in Afghanistan. (need a transition here? was he medically discharged? retired?)  The then stay-at-home-dad was approached by one of his neighbors about hauling away some unwanted items in preparation for a military move.

At the time, Martinez thought he was just helping out a friend. He didn't know he was laying the foundation for a business.

"I found comfort and solace in this thing we call junk removal," he said.

Today, Vets Haul Junk has four locations throughout the country. Martinez attributes his success to the lessons he learned as a result of his military experience that revolves around planning for just about any foreseeable contingency.

"We're big tactical planners and used our military training to develop our business plan," he said.

At the heart of the plan is an insistence that all franchisees are financially stable before they even open their doors.

"We require all of our owners to have substantial financial resources," he said.

But not all small business owners are fortunate enough to have the financial resources to weather an economic disaster. That's where a Small Business Administration Disaster Loan can help.

The direct loans have been funded by the Treasury Department since 1953, said SBA Public Affairs Officer Carol Chastang.

"Small business and non-profits can borrow up to $2 million to cover operating expenses they could have handled had COVID-19 not happened," she explained.

The application process can be completed online. These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.

The loans will be offered with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable for up to a maximum of 30 years. The terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

"Small businesses are the heart of the community and small business owners are resilient," she said.

Martinez said when word of the pandemic began breaking, his teams immediately began updating their business plan to include such things as curbside junk removal where customers place their unwanted items outside so his employees do not have to enter the home.

"We're all military veterans," he said. "We overcome and adapt."

To apply for the loan, go to

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