Every day when we ask prospective franchise owners why they want to own their own businesses; they eagerly tell their stories.

Abridged versions include electing to run from office politics and boarding too many airplanes, to profiting from their own hard work and spending more time with their families. Whatever the reasons, they are the sparks that activate entrepreneurial muscles and build with encouragement and become a passion.

Anthony Gomez recently purchased the Zippy Print in Kingsville, Ontario, and plans to convert it to an Allegra Marketing Print Mail Center. Anthony’s story is unique in many ways and inspiring from its start: Anthony is a refugee.

His father is Chinese and his mother Portuguese. They met in Nicaragua where he was born. When war broke out in the late ‘70s, they fled to a small fishing village in Portugal. His father was unable to find work, so they immigrated to Canada. “I was eight,” he said. “I remember seeing snow for the first time.”

His first job was in a factory. “I wanted security, but I just kept believing that there’s got be a better way to make money.” That was the genesis of his thinking like an entrepreneur. Then he put thought into action.

“Canada is one of the largest manufacturers of fresh mushrooms in the world. I was working harvesting mushrooms. Since it was piece work, they allowed us to have Walkmans. While everybody else was jibber-jabbering, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by listening to self-help and motivational tapes. My dad gave me the 12 Steps To Change Your Life tape by Tony Robbins. I listened to it over and over again and the entrepreneurial light bulb got brighter and brighter.”

Anthony continued to borrow insights and strengthen his motivation listening to Earn What You’re Really Worth by Brian Tracy, and reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, everything from Tom Hopkins, and others. In college, he studied advertising and read Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilvy. “I enjoyed it, the whole concept of advertising and direct mail.”

In the early 2000s, Anthony was working in the agricultural sector as a marketing manager designing packaging. Aside from his regular work, entrepreneurs from Europe would come in and want to promote their brands but didn’t know how. He saw a business opportunity and approached Zippy Print. Together they supplied companies with business cards, brochures, direct mail, and a variety of different services to push their new products. “We did really well.”

When the Zippy Print owner expressed an interest in retiring, he approached Anthony about buying the business. “I’ve always loved the core products that the franchise offered. So we formed an arrangement. I worked in the business for two years during the transition and took possession January 1.”

Anthony’s Zippy Print, soon to be Allegra, is a small, family-run business. “There are five of us. I’m the visionary and salesperson. In an advertising agency, I would be the account executive,” says Anthony. “My wife, Martha, is the bookkeeper. Our oldest son, Josef, runs operations, and our youngest son, Quintin, handles inside sales and estimating. Our seasoned employee, Bradley, is the production manager. We’re right now recruiting a graphic designer.”

On converting to the Allegra brand, Anthony sees it as more self-help and motivation to reach his entrepreneurial goals: business success and financial security. With Allegra, we’ll be upgrading our systems, connecting with a larger support network, and increasing our portfolio of products and services that we provide our B2B clients. We see ourselves as an advertising agency for small- to mid-sized companies.”