May 18, 2015
7-Eleven’s focus on servant leadership won’t be a new concept for Robert Kemna. This OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND veterans franchise giveaway winner demonstrated leadership throughout his 15 year military career – all while putting the needs of his country above his own.
Stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Kemna is the only active duty winner, serving as captain, Civil Affairs with the U.S. Army Reserves and Guard until September 2015. Kemna applied for OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND while juggling a wedding, honeymoon, training and his active duty responsibilities. While the contest’s original goal was to identify one well-qualified veteran to win their own franchise, the applicants impressed 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto so much that all three final candidates were given a store.
“I was shocked at every step of the way,” said Kemna about his contest experience. “First, I was the only one in Florida, then I made the top 25, then the top 10, and finally the top 3. When they told me ‘we decided to give all three of you a store,’ I couldn’t believe 7-Eleven would actually give away a store to three veterans.”
Kemna's military career began after joining the Army Reserves in April 2000. His unit was one of the first mobilized after the September 11th terrorist attacks. As military policemen across the country were called to secure all seaports and airports, Kemna and his unit mobilized to secure a seaport in North Carolina. Kemna left college to mobilize with his team. He returned to his education after this assignment but began active duty service again after graduation.
After a 15-year military career, Kemna recently decided he wanted to enter the civilian workforce. He knew he had unique skills from his military career that some companies might overlook – and that's when 7-Eleven caught his eye. Kemna researched military friendly franchisors, and, as he put it, “7-Eleven always popped up at the top of everything.”
“I’ve had a lot of experience leading people and managing major operations. I didn’t want to start over with an entry-level position,” said Kemna.
7-Eleven also provided flexibility. While Kemna is stationed in North Carolina, his new wife lives in Miami, Florida – where Kemna hopes to establish his franchise.
Like a true servant leader, Kemna credits others with his own success. “I learned from the contest that your success depends on the people you surround yourself with,” said Kemna. “I found it amazing that so many people, some that didn’t even know me, were willing to help.” We can't wait to see you lead your own franchise, Robert! 7-Eleven welcomes you to the team.
If you're ready to enlist as a 7-Eleven Franchisee, visit the Veterans Franchise Program page for more information.
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