Gavette Heeds New Calling
He wanted a livelihood that would allow him to pursue his desire to help others and provide the free time he wanted to do mission and volunteer work.
Today, several months after hearing of an idea from an old high school friend over breakfast one morning, Larry Gavette believes he's found what he was seeking — and in a far different setting than he envisioned.
"This was the furthest thing from my mind. I never would have thought of it," said Gavette, a 52-year-old Holland resident who this spring opened a Holland consulting business for The Entrepreneur's Source, a company that provides mentoring and counseling to people who want to become self-employed or are considering franchising.
Working through a nationwide network of franchise owners, the company works with people much like Gavette: They've come to a crossroads and are looking for a change. Taking on the role of part counselor and part recruiter, The Entrepreneur's Source helps clients determine what they want in their life and their career and whether becoming a franchise owner is an option to consider.
If so, The Entrepreneur's Source will work with a person to match them to the right franchise opportunity: from owning a fast-food restaurant, coffee shop or tanning salon, to professional services such as telecommunications or financial consulting.
While the payoff comes from a finder's fee collected when The Entrepreneur's Source matches a person with a franchiser, the goal is not necessarily steering people into a franchise business, Gavette said. More times than not the process takes people through a soul-searching process to determine what they want, how they can achieve their goal and whether owning a franchise is the right match that will get them there, he said.
"The idea is not to sell franchises. The idea is to help people become successful," Gavette said. "For a lot of people it's the lifestyle you want. It's basically helping people find themselves."
In his own case, Gavette found the right match with the very company for which he now works as a franchise holder, enabling him to pursue his personal goal of helping people.
His search began in 1999 after he spent 25 years with a Holland church as a youth pastor and pastor of Christian education. He later joined a mission organization in suburban Detroit, Send International, recruiting pastors for mission trips to teach in the Ukraine, where Gavette had visited several times since 1995 while doing missionary work.
A Pontiac native whose father was a pastor, Gavette came to Holland soon after his 1974 graduation from Wheaton College with a master's degree in Christian leadership. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Christian education.
An aunt and uncle living in Holland had submitted his name to a church for the youth pastor's position. He interviewed, was offered the job and moved to Holland that summer.
By last fall, two years after leaving his position in Holland, Gavette was ready to make another career move that would enable him to raise money for mission work, primarily in the Ukraine, and volunteer in the community.
"The Lord," he said, "was saying 'It's time to look for other things.'"
That other thing came up over breakfast with a friend, who himself had become involved with The Entrepreneur's Source and mentioned how it helped him clarify his values and goals. Gavette's initial reaction was "I don't have a business background; what can I do to help people?"
Yet once he thought more about it, he contacted the friend for more information and agreed to go through the assessment process that he now leads clients through. The initial opportunities presented to him included owning a retail store, working in sales, and a technical support and training company for computers.
The last idea was intriguing, he said. After carefully thinking it over, Gavette settled on another option — joining The Entrepreneur's Source, which like most franchisers provides the necessary training and support for franchisees.
Gavette concluded that the kind of work he does for The Entrepreneur's Source is not all that different from his work as a pastor: listening, helping people working through issues and finding a direction in life.
His goals and skills, he said, match up quite nicely with The Entrepreneur's Source.
"At the end of the day, I needed something that would satisfy my need to be a help to people," Gavette said. "This is just a different venue. It's all about building trust with people and building rapport with them."
That trust is what steered him to The Entrepreneur's Source and, ultimately, the kind of flexibility he wanted in order to pursue his other interests in life. The key, he said, is keeping an open mind to the possibilities that can evolve from the kind of self-examination process the company puts clients through.
"If I had said, 'Forget it, that's just not a possibility,' I would have lost out on a really good opportunity," Gavette said. "The franchise is really not that important. The franchise is the vehicle that gets you to where you want to go."