HOW A VETERAN-TURNED-ENTREPRENEUR IS HELPING THOSE WHO SERVED—AND HOW YOU CAN TOO
QUARTERLY SPOTLIGHT: VETERANS AND SMALL BUSINESS
Brynt Parmeter never wanted to “just” sell coffee, he also wanted to serve a higher cause. As a U.S. veteran, he wanted to help ensure he could use his business as a way to give back to current and former service members. Selling good coffee from around the world was just a means to that end.
“I loved coffee because, I think by law, as an Army soldier I had to drink coffee all the time,” Parmeter, Co-founder and CEO of Call Sign Coffee Company, says. “It’s great coffee, but it’s also centered around that sense of community support, of the military. It’s more about a lifetime of service.”
At Call Sign Coffee, Parmeter manages the front-office chores of building partnerships and externally-facing marketing while his wife, Lisa Parmeter, Co-founder and COO, handles “day-to-day operations” including roasting the coffee beans.
Call Sign Coffee has built a number of partnerships with well-established veterans’ organizations. One of the groups Call Sign Coffee donates to has a personal connection to Parmeter. In 2005, a good friend of his was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. As a result, a non-profit group, the Windy 25 Memorial Fund, was founded to care for the family members of those who lost their lives. Call Sign Coffee created a special coffee and sells it at Windy 25’s annual 5K race in Las Vegas. All proceeds from those sales go back to the fund. Call Sign Coffee also sells specially-branded “Windy 25 Coffee” throughout the year with proceeds going to the fund.
“My goal is to interact with business leaders who want to have a relationship with an organization that has a purpose, rather than one that merely provides coffee,” Parmeter says.
According to the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, over 80% of small businesses say it is important to focus more on hiring veterans, but only one in 10 small businesses have intentionally recruited military veterans in the past year. There are easy steps any small business can take to ensure veterans have a better chance to learn about and fill job openings.
One place to start is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) program which helps veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses connect with employers. Both employers and veterans can find and learn about real-world (and virtual) job fairs for veterans in their local communities. HOH also has a digital platform where service members can build a resume and make it searchable for thousands of employers. There is no cost for employers to register for, or attend, a HOH event.
For small businesses looking to hire, Lisa says veterans possess skills sets that are ideal for any entrepreneurial organization.
“Veterans have that can-do attitude,” Lisa says. “They’re more willing to try new things and more open to things that aren’t necessarily in their job description. In the service, they work a myriad of jobs: one day they might be a mechanic, and the next they’re in the office doing administrative stuff. Anything you throw at them, they’re going to roll with it.”
No matter what the size of your business is, you can take that first step to recruit and hire more veterans.
“Don’t buy into this narrative that every veteran is broken,” Parmeter says. “Part of supporting veterans is realizing that veterans are positive people and out there doing things. You have these people with these great experiences they bring to the table, and you can leverage that.”
For more information on how your organization can better recruit and hire veterans and military spouses, visit the Hiring our Heroes website at https://www.hiringourheroes.org/veterans.
If you're an active-duty service member, veteran, or military spouse seeking mentors, educational opportunities and a community of experts and peers to help build your business, visit Patriot Boot Camp at https://patriotbootcamp.org/.
And if you're a veteran-owned business looking to connect with the people, resources, and support to start and grow your businesses, visit Bunker Labs at https://bunkerlabs.org/.