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Business Sense

Leadership. Inspiration. Success.

Behind every successful small business is a successful leader. Even in today's increasingly technology-driven marketplace, the ability to inspire and motivate people is fundamental to success. And according to Robbie Doughty, owner of a Little Caesars Pizza franchise in Paducah, Kentucky, veterans with disabilities have these strong leadership skills.

In July 2004, two months into a tour of duty in Iraq, Doughty lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb. Following rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he learned to walk with prosthetic legs, he returned home to a hero's welcome. Soon after, while still considering various career options, his story caught the attention of Michael Ilitch, founder of Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. A Korean-war era veteran himself, Mr. Ilitch was inspired by Doughty?s positive outlook and wanted to express appreciation for his service. So he helped him open a franchise, a step that eventually resulted in the Little Caesars Veterans Program.

Doughty opened his business in partnership with a fellow Iraq war veteran. Based on its success, they opened a second location not long after and for logistical reasons decided to each assume full ownership of one rather than joint ownership of two. Doughty now plans to open another location, this time in partnership with his brother, also a veteran.

Doughty never had any formal business training, but his military experience equipped him with skills that contribute to success as a business owner, he said. "The number one thing the military does for anyone is make them a leader," he said. "We have to make critical decisions every day, and we know how to motivate people."

According to Doughty, this holds especially true for disabled veterans. "These are people who had to make life and death decisions and have positive leadership qualities any business can benefit from. It's just ingrained in them," he said. "Even if someone is missing a limb, or even two, they will always find a way to accomplish a mission."

JUST RELEASED: ODEP's revised Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities, including returning disabled veterans, features video clips, research and anecdotal information from businesses and industry leaders on how hiring people with disabilities improves an organization's bottom line across six themes: Return on Investment, Human Capital, Innovation, Marketing, Diversity, and Social Responsibility.

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