New book puts spotlight on veteran business owners 


By Rick Morwick

No one needs to convince Paul Pickett that military veterans are well-suited to own and operate a business. He can’t, in fact, think of more qualified candidates.


“Veterans have a unique history of following best practices and understand that those best practices are the way to meet brand standards,” said Pickett, a Carmel-based franchising expert and chief development officer for Wild Birds Unlimited. “(They) also know that following those best practices is the best way to achieve their own success. They like systems. They like communication and clarity. They are great implementers, to say the least.”

Pickett, an Indianapolis resident who works in Carmel, states his case for veterans in a new book, “The Franchise Book of Mentors,” which he guest-authored with primary author Keith Gerson. All proceeds from the book, which was released Nov. 11 , Veterans Day, benefit VetFran, an International Franchise Association organization that helps veterans transition from the military to franchise ownership.

A long-time industry expert, Gerson is president of franchise operations and chief marketing officer for FranConnect, a leading management software provider. He recruited Pickett, whom he has known for more than two decades, and 22 other national experts to contribute insights for “The Franchise Book of Mentors.”


“(Pickett) is one of the most respected thought-leaders in all of franchising and one of the most generous of any I know,” said Gerson, who resides near FranConnect’s headquarters in Herndon, Va. “He was one of the first requests I made for my short-list of contributors. I’ve admired his amazing and award-winning efforts and his conviction to making a difference in the lives of others.”

Wild Birds Unlimited, founded in 1981 in Indianapolis, is a national retail chain that specializes in bird-feeding supplies. Several of its franchises are owned by veterans, including several in Maryland.

“We have a number of veterans in the Wild Birds Unlimited system who are great owners,” Pickett said. “It was a huge honor to be invited to participate (in the book).”

“The Franchise Book of Mentors” can be purchased at


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