Anthony Gentile always knew he would have an opportunity to take over the family business — but only if he earned it.

“Dad always told me the business was an opportunity for me, but I had to go out on my own first,” said Gentile. “He wanted me to go to college, have a job for five years where I’m continually growing into my roles and responsibilities, that sort of thing.”

Gentile took his dad’s advice to heart, attending college at the University of Alabama before enrolling in the Air Force, where he spent six years. In December 2021, he decided it was time to leave the Air Force and take over his father’s business as the owner of Jan-Pro Franchise Development of Huntsville.

Jan-Pro is a commercial cleaning company with 75 master franchisees and 4,500 unit franchisees. Gentile helps Jan-Pro certified business owners develop their franchises in the region.

Cleaning and disinfecting became a vital industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the offices and schools across the country shut down for lengthy periods of time to prevent the spread of the disease. Those that remained open during the pandemic as essential businesses or now are bringing workers back to offices have installed more intense cleaning and disinfecting programs at facilities of all kinds.

One of the most appealing aspects of the business for Gentile was Jan-Pro’s VetConnection program, touted as the first franchise commercial cleaning program designed around the needs of veterans. Jan-Pro announced VetConnection as a program that “puts veterans in business ownership roles designed specifically around veterans’ needs. This program puts veterans in business ownership roles where they can apply their leadership skills and other disciplines in a growing industry.”

Army veteran Jacques Lapointe founded Jan-Pro in 1991. Anthony’s father, Dominic Gentile, started his Jan-Pro Franchise Development of Huntsville business in 2005.

Anthony Gentile says that Lapointe set an example for future franchisees by showing that veterans can find success in the cleaning industry even if they don’t have previous experience.

“He really understood that veterans have a lot to offer in business,” Gentile said. “In my experience as a pilot, a lot of businesses would say, ‘You don’t have an MBA, so you may not be as valuable to us because we have to teach you some things,’ but Jan-Pro realized there are a lot of qualities that military members have that makes them valuable business owners, like work ethic and integrity.”

Gentile is using that same perspective to help veterans develop their own career path in the cleaning industry. As an Air Force veteran, he can offer fellow veterans who choose to enter the cleaning industry the perspective of one of their own who can serve as a mentor and offer support when it’s needed.

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