Papa Murphy’s Franchise Review: Meet Joel Davidson

Why a veteran chose to invest in the iconic take-n-bake franchise after leaving the military

Joel Davidson grew up eating Papa Murphy’s pizza every Friday night in Montana, but he never imagined that he would one day be in the pizza business himself. In fact, the only thing he knew for sure in those days was that the world was a lot bigger than his hometown and he wanted to see as much of it as he could.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Joel joined the Navy and began what would become a successful 20-year career.

“I joined the navy on a whim because I thought it was the best route to get out of Montana,” he says. “I love Montana, but I was adventurous and wanted to challenge myself. It turns out that it was one of the best decisions I ever made, and it completely made me the person I am today.”

While life in the navy is certainly adventurous, with many months spent onboard a ship at a time, Joel found the long deployments away from his wife challenging. As he approached his 20th anniversary with the Navy, Joel was ready for a different kind of life. He began to explore opportunities that would allow him to spend more time with his wife.

“When I was ready to leave the military, I wanted to do something completely different,” Joel says. “There was plenty of opportunity to work for organizations within the military-industrial complex, but I didn’t want that kind of career. I had spent so much time deployed and away from my wife that I didn’t want to take a job that would take me away from her again.”

At the time, Joel and his wife were stationed in Virginia Beach – where a Papa Murphy’s store had recently opened. When the location went up for sale several years later, Joel convinced his wife and his business partner to purchase it – and they haven’t looked back.

“We opened in 2018, and we couldn’t be happier,” he says. “I love the brand, I love the pizza, and I love that it was such a simple business model. Papa Murphy’s provides you with a great playbook to follow, which was easy for me after being in the navy for 20 years. I loved that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, that we weren’t on our own, and that by following the business model we could really grow this business. That’s exactly what we did.”

In the three years since Joel took ownership of the Papa Murphy’s Virginia Beach location, his business continues to grow with the recent addition of a second location in Williamsburg, VA.

“We’ve been growing every single year since we’ve started,” Joel says. “It’s been really phenomenal to see how much we’ve grown in three years, and there’s no sign that we’ve reached our peak. Even during the early months of COVID-19, when everything was uncertain, we expected to see a big dip in sales – and that didn’t happen. In fact, we’ve seen a lot more guests coming in now because they want to support their local businesses and also new guests have stopped by to try us out. We’re expecting 2021 to be a great year for us.”

As Joel focuses on growing his second location, which he and his business partner recently took ownership of, he has some advice for veterans looking to become entrepreneurs:

“If you’re in the military and are looking for a business opportunity, Papa Murphy’s makes a lot of sense,” he says. “Veterans have drive, we have gumption, and we’re not afraid of going into the unknown. Like any business, it’s up to you. The reason why Papa Murphy’s makes sense is that it’s affordable – meaning that it’s not out of reach for most veterans. The business model is straightforward, and you get the full support of a franchise brand that has your back. This is a great business for veterans because it offers so much of what we’re good at and there are territories still available that will allow you to continue to grow and expand with additional locations!.”

Want to learn more about owning a franchise with Papa Murphy’s?

Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza franchises is a low-cost investment opportunity offering high growth potential. We have grown to more than 1,250 locations thanks to a business model built for entrepreneurs who are passionate about quality, service, integrity, and most of all—pizza.

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