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Back in the Business Saddle
by Dan Eckles
May 22, 2013 | 2304 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela - After eight years of retirement, Sparks resident Denny Jensen has given up much of his free time to purchase the local Molly Maid franchise.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela - After eight years of retirement, Sparks resident Denny Jensen has given up much of his free time to purchase the local Molly Maid franchise.
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In 2004, Denny Jensen left the fast-paced life of banking in the Bay Area. He was not on the road to retirement. He'd reached that destination and was looking forward to free time and playing more golf.

Jensen and his wife Micki, of 31 years, bought a home near Red Hawk golf course in the Wingfield Springs subdivision of north Sparks. Originally wanting to retire to Tahoe, Denny and Micki thought Sparks was a nice compromise.

"We'd been living in Walnut Creek, Calif. for 25 years before moving to Reno-Sparks," Jensen said. "Our dream was we'd retire in Tahoe but as we got older and kept looking at the months of snow and cold in Tahoe, we thought this is not the place to live. Sparks popped out to us. It's 45 minutes from the eighth wonder of the world and this is a great place. Nevada offers so much for retirees."

After nearly nine years in the Rail City, Jensen couldn't be happier to call it home.

"I love it here," he said. "One of the first things that hit us is Sparks has a friendly, warm feeling with the people. You see a tremendous amount of family value. You go into a grocery store and you'll be standing in line with somebody talking to you within a couple minutes. That's not quite the way it was in California."

While Jensen learned to love the Sparks community, he did not learn to love retirement. In fact, after a few years, he found himself longing for a challenge. His golf game improved but he found himself bored and looking for something to keep his brain sharp.

"You can only play so much golf," Jensen said. "You find yourself sitting around a lot, not being useful or productive. I started playing around with the idea of finding something that would fill my time. I never dreamed of buying a franchise."

And yet, that's what he ended up doing, although not initially. Jensen's first retirement task was fixing up a vintage Corvette. He said that took roughly a year and a half, but he restored a 1957 model before eventually selling it and watching the retirement boredom creep in.

Jensen said his first inkling of getting back in the business world crept in while he vacationed in Maui.

"We've got a timeshare and there's a frozen yogurt shop we like to go to after dinner over there," Jensen said. "The last time I was there, we were sitting around looking at the place and people were going through like crazy. I asked what would it take to run something like this?"

When the Jensens returned to their northern Nevada home on the mainland, Denny began looking at some business options. He even said a franchise broker looked him up and began picking his brain about the things he'd look for in a business investment.

"He started telling me about different franchises," Jensen said. "He asked how much I wanted to invest, how much return I wanted, all these questions. I thought 'I don't have a clue. I was just out playing on the internet.' He threw two or three things at me that did not look very interesting.

"Then he said, 'I've got this Molly Maid franchise and it just happens to be in Sparks.' I said 'Absolutely not.' I was not interested in going out and cleaning houses. My wife responded a little bit stronger than that."

But apparently, Jensen was destined to be a Molly Maid franchisee. The broker kept after him and Jensen began to listen more. After some convincing, a trip to corporate headquarters and a few months passing, Jensen warmed up to the idea. Now, at 70, eight-plus years after retiring from Visa International and the banking industry, Jensen owns Molly Maid in Sparks.

Not only that, but he's fully invested in improving company morale and growing the business, two things he says are already coming along.

"First, I wanted to change the whole morale of the organization and make it a team," Jensen said. "That has truly worked. We wanted to show every employee respect and warmth for each other. I wanted to make sure every employee had every piece of equipment to do their job. If they are carrying a big load of cleaning bags back into the office, go to the car and help them out. Those are little things that are easy to do.

"If you've got a team that's happy and smiling when they come to work, they are going to be smiling when they go out and meet customers on daily basis. And I've got to tell you it's working. Employees are coming to work with smiles on their faces and through that, business is up 25 percent over last year."

Jensen paused and pondered for a few moments when asked if he retired too soon or if a retirement break recharged him for his new foray into the franchise world of Molly Maid. The Wisconsin native said if he could do it all over he'd probably have hung on at Visa a few more years, citing new challenges and projects he could have overseen and led at the time. Still, he's ambitious with the new business challenges keeping him busy now.

But where does he see his business venture going and would he jump through the hoops of buying and learning a new business again?

"My business plan is to have Molly Maid here financially to the level that we can step back within two and a half years, and we are right on track. At that point in time, I'd just like to step back to four, then maybe three days a week, and so forth. Then we can have a manager in place that I'm comfortable leaving for extended periods of time.

"I'm glad I bought the franchise. Absolutely, I would do it again."

DENNY JENSEN'S FAVORITES

Food: Meatloaf

TV show: Scandal

Movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Musical group: The Beach Boys

Author: Vince Flynn


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