Tony Rainwater wanted to make an impact on people’s lives, make money doing it and still have time for his wife and children.
“I wanted to do something different because I’d been in manufacturing the last 15 years — on-call 24/7,” Rainwater said.
“I was coaching my 8-year-old son’s baseball team,” Rainwater said. “I had to scramble to get out of the office by 4 o’clock for practice, and then I’d have to head back to the office when it was over.”
About four years ago, Rainwater began serving as a board member for Rebuilding Together Tulsa — a non-profit group that provided no-cost home repair and modifications for low-income elderly and those living with disabilities. In that role, Rainwater helped coordinate and build wheelchair ramps for RTT’s clients.
One of the partners during Rainwater’s tenure at RTT was American Ramp Systems. The partnership was not on a local level, but national, Rainwater said.
“There was no direct connection with RTT. The partnership was announced at the national Rebuilding Together convention, and that is how I learned of amRAMP,” said Rainwater. The company is based at 9152 E. 102nd St. in Tulsa.
A year ago, after exploring several options, Rainwater left his career in manufacturing with an eye toward becoming an entrepreneur. He decided to purchase a business that was already familiar to him, and after a thorough search decided an amRAMP franchise was the right choice.
Part of a Movement
Rainwater is part of a trend — people exiting Corporate America because they want a change, said Isabell Estes, who owns The Entrepreneur’s Source. The Tulsa-based company is a network of business ownership consultants who work with individuals and companies considering franchising as a career alternative or as a method of expansion.
“It is huge,” Estes said of the trend. “Many people crave things like financial rewards, flexibility and are looking for ideas that allow them to work hours around their families.”
The reasons people leave the corporate environment to launch their own business is varied, she said.
“They have to transfer somewhere where they do not want to live. Or, they have just come to a point in their life where they say, ‘This is something I want to do.’”
“We started looking at products, services and businesses; searching for an ideal situation for them,” Estes said. “We put that information into format, based on what was a good fit for him.”
The process was thorough.
“We can certainly say we did our due diligence,” said Rainwater. “Not only did we speak with franchise company executives, but we also spoke with nearly 100 franchise owners from across the country to determine which business would be the best fit for us.”
Estes acted as a guide, helping the Rainwaters find what they wanted in a business.
Rainwater wanted to launch something different.
“Heather and I looked at all kinds of franchise options. We started investigating different business opportunities.”
Franchise That Fits
They decided late last summer that American Ramp Systems was “it.”
“It was something we could be proud of while providing a neat service to individuals,” Tony said.
American Ramp Systems, or amRamp, was founded in 1998 as a division of Boston-based Gordon Industries Inc., a manufacturer of metal architectural products.
The company is a leading producer of modular steel ramps designed for both interior and exterior use in residential and commercial settings.
The market the company targets include key segments: home healthcare, aging individuals, children with disabilities and rental opportunities.
Often, the company serves clients who have experienced a medical trauma or who have pre-existing needs and want to add or replace a ramp in their living environment.
“There are so many barriers they encounter in society; it’s amazing how something as simple as a ramp can help,” Rainwater said. ?