Lenny's News and Interviews

Special Ops Vetrepreneur Success Story: Sandwich Specialist

October 31, 2012

Shutao Wang is a classic American success story.  He and his family emigrated
to Texas from China when he was 15.  After attending college for several years, he enlisted in the Army.  Now, he has found the quintessential American dream: business ownership.  “My family ran several restaurants and bars, even back in
China,” said Wang, 29. “When I decided to go into business for myself, I wanted to follow in their footsteps.”

ON THE JOB
The former Army specialist owns a Lenny’s Sub Shop franchise in Greenville, S.C. The chain is known for its heaping Philly cheesesteaks – half a pound of meat and cheese on a regular sub and a full pound on a large sub.  Wang, who bought the franchise in May, has eight employees.  His restaurant serves approximately
250 customers daily, earning between $25,000 and $30,000 each month.  “The store had been at this location for several years before I bought it,” Wang said. “It’s a great spot. There are a lot of businesses here, and BMW has a plant nearby as well. One thing we do really well is show the freshness and quality of our ingredients.  We cut the meat and place it on the subs in front of our customers.”
Wang works from 1000 through the evening. He helps his manager prep the restaurant for opening at 1100.  Throughout the day, Wang performs marketing
and administrative tasks before going home at 1600.  Even then, he still attends to any pressing matters and checks in with the restaurant, which closes at 2100.  “One key to my success is my ability to lead people,” Wang said.  “I learned from my Army NCOs that you can’t apply one style of leadership to all people. Everyone is
unique and you have to tailor your leadership style accordingly, especially in the civilian world.”

IN UNIFORM
After high school, Wang attended Texas Southern University before transferring to the University of Houston.  Because he hadn’t yet earned his citizenship, Wang had
to pay international student fees, which tripled when he transferred.  He spoke to an Army recruiter and saw the military as a good way to become a U.S. citizen
and earn money for school (he plans to return to school by the end of this year).  In 2006, Wang completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.; he was trained as an operating room specialist (68D) at Fort Jackson, S.C.  Wang spent his career at Fort Jackson.

THE TRANSITION
Wang left the Army in 2012 because he wanted to go into business for himself and eventually finish college.  “I had been thinking about opening my own restaurant since 2010,” he said.  “I was interested in franchising because I wanted something that had a proven system for success already in place.”  Wang considered several franchises, including Moe’s Southwest Grill and KFC. He heard about Lenny’s Sub Shop from a franchise expert in one of his transition classes.  The expert told him about a local corporate-owned Lenny’s Sub Shop and how the company was looking for someone to buy it.  “I love sub sandwiches, so I stopped by the restaurant,” Wang said.  “I loved the food, especially the cheesesteaks.  I knew at that moment that I wanted to be part of that company, and I contacted them about becoming a franchisee.”  Wang had saved quite a bit of money and borrowed more money from his parents, which gave him enough for a deposit on his franchise.


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Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager
(901) 753-4002