Evan Hafer, Army Special Forces veteran and current CEO of Black Rifle Coffee Company, isn't interested in getting into a public relations war with Starbucks.
"I'm very happy that Starbucks announced they were going to speed up their hiring practices for veterans," he says, referring to recent statements made by Howard Schulz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, that the company would be hiring 10,000 refugees. Although Starbucks originally started a successful program to hire veterans in 2013 — hiring 8,800 veterans and spouses since then — the decision by Starbucks to ramp up the promotion of their veteran hiring program after negative publicity following the refugee statement is, for Hafer, "a win."
Hafer said his coffee company, based in Utah and veteran-owned, will take a page from Starbucks' successful veteran's employment program and attempt to offer employment opportunities through the sale of franchises to 10,000 veterans over the next six years. Many of those men and women, despite the success of programs like Starbucks', remain out of work or underemployed, he says.
"Black Rifle Coffee has a mission," Hafer told The Blaze. "My personal charter in this business is that we're always advocating for the United States veteran."
There are 2.6 million veterans living in this country. Hafer says those who serve should be the focus of hiring efforts, rather than groups like refugees.
"The history of public service is not one of fame and riches," he says. "You're signing up to barely get anything back, and often putting your life on the line."
Hafer said he's is pleased that his effort might serve as a reminder to other businesses that these men and women have earned the attention.
"Veterans have an extremely high suicide rate. We need to give them a mission, an opportunity; we need to give them a job and get the pills and the gun out their hand," he says. "If it's wrong for me to try doing that, then I don't know what's right."
Hafer says he's trying to galvanize the customer base who might be sympathetic to veterans, or who were veterans themselves looking for a new revenue stream or chance at success.
He says he has crunched the numbers and was in the process of exercising his franchise option anyway. The idea, he says, came at a good time. The goal is to open 600 stores in six years — which is what he says it would take to hire 10,000 vets. It's not outside the realm of possibility, he believes.
And what if he's not successful?
"Is it a 'lose' to try?," he asks.