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The Great Resignation and Small Business Startups

3 Mins read

The Great Resignation is Very Much About “It’s My Turn to Benefit From all My Hard Work” says Floor Coverings International CEO Tom Wood

The numbers are astounding, and you can count the husband-and-wife team of John Gero and Cheryl Kirsch among them. What’s been called the Great Resignation has been carrying on for some time now and the figures certainly give one pause. More than 4.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs last November, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, representing the highest number in two decades of government tracking. Leaving behind two-plus-decade careers, the couple now services Northwest Houston and surrounding area as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, the brand that’s consistently ranked No. 1 in the mobile flooring category, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

John spent 25 years as a project manager while Cheryl spent an equal number of years in outside sales. Gero said the time had simply come to start looking out for No. 1. “We both grew tired of helping other businesses prosper and watching them retire while we were still grinding. We decided to buy a Floor Coverings International franchise to build a legacy for our family,” said Gero, who added the couple hopes to bring their sons into the business as it grows.

According to Tom Wood, President and CEO of Norcross, Georgia based Floor Coverings International, Surveys returned by their newest group of franchisees seem to contain remarkably similar reasons for the career change. “It seems like the time spent with family during the pandemic, or maybe because of the pandemic, we see many more responses to our question of ‘why do you want to switch careers?’ with similar wording. ‘It’s time to work for myself and my family as hard as I did for others.’

Brad Hawkins, a successful wealth manager for 16 years, is now serving Central New York within a 60-mile radius of Syracuse as a new franchisee with Floor Coverings International. The 40-year-old Hawkins, his wife and three young children moved to Camillus after spending almost 16 years in the Washington, D.C. area so the couple could raise their kids closer to family. During the pandemic they had reassessed their values: how they wanted to raise their family and how they were spending their time. They decided a major lifestyle change was in order that involved moving north.

“Leaving my firm, my team and clients was really hard to do since I tremendously value the relationships I built over the years. However, we knew this was the right move for personal and family reasons,” said Hawkins, resides there. “The only definitive plan I had was not returning to corporate America and rather starting my own business. After many years in corporate America, I was excited to build something on my own.”

Matthew Relyea enjoyed an 11-year career with the world’s largest car rental operator, Enterprise, managing businesses with annual revenue reaching $120 million during his tenure and now he’s taking that business acumen and putting it to work for himself. Recently the 36-year-old joined the Floor Coverings International family as the franchisee for Northwest Columbus and serves customers throughout Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, and Upper Arlington, Ohio.

“I started with Enterprise right out of college,” Relyea said of his previous career with the billion-dollar global company. “My time there taught me a business philosophy to live by that I utilize daily owning my own business now: ‘Take care of your customers and employees, and growth and success will follow.”

Relyea found success in multiple markets in multiple states with his former employer by following that simple philosophy, “but I knew I wanted to own my own business,” Relyea said. “And I wanted to find a franchise system that had a similar culture to what I enjoyed along with a strong support system for franchisees, especially during the startup phase,” Relyea said.

Relyea pursued the path of small-business ownership partly because his grandfather, father, and his father’s brothers all owned businesses. “I knew when leaving the corporate world that it was my time to transition from being an intrapreneur to an entrepreneur,” Relyea said. “To be able to carry that torch of successful business ownership into a third generation of my family is something that means a lot to me.”

Rhonda Sanderson is an expert and author in franchising and is the founder of Sanderson PR and #FranchiseStars. Reach her @SandersonPR. For further information about owning a franchise go to and for a Floor Coverings International franchise go to


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