Military lessons and values have helped business thrive
Army veteran Jay Mechtly owns an i9 Sports® business in North Carolina, covering Wilmington, Jacksonville, and Brunswick County.
Jay went to West Point right after high school and was in the Army for six years, including deployments in 2003 and all of 2005. He began his transition to an i9 Sports owner as a parent and a volunteer coach.
He and his wife Danielle have four kids: Josh, 18, Luke, 17, Ashlyn, 15, and Alex, 13, and all of their kids have played with i9 Sports.
He enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to become an owner, and the business has flourished, growing to 2,500 players per season. Now he’s expanded into a second territory — this one in Georgia, including Savannah, Pooler, Richmond Hill, and Rincon, for the Fall 2023 season.
A great fit for a new career
Asked if he thinks that i9 Sports is a good second career for veterans, Jay says, “People that succeed in the military are used to following a plan. It’s like the franchise system in that there’s a standard procedure for doing what needs to be done.”
“The marketing side can be challenging, but the franchisor supports you,” he says.
In addition to the marketing support, i9 Sports provides its proprietary technology, business model, and a business coach, who is available when you need help or guidance. i9 Sports also is part of a program that makes it easier for veterans to make the transition by lowering the cost of starting a business.
i9 Sports participates in the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, which provides special financial incentives to U.S. Armed Forces veterans. If you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, we will discount 10% of the franchise fee due in connection with a 10-Year Area Developer Agreement.
Roots of success
Jay attributes his success to two pivotal factors: marketing and people.
Inspired by fellow franchisees in New Mexico, Jay offered families i9 Sports car magnets, complemented by school flyers, signs, and radio ads to build a strong community presence.
And his emphasis on hiring and retaining quality staff ensures families return season after season for a fun and rewarding experience. Allan Erickson, program director in Savannah, and Craig Decatur, program director in Wilmington, are also Jay’s partners in the Savannah territory.
The i9 Sports difference
Jay says that what sets the i9 Sports business model apart is the convenience factor and the atmosphere.
His family had been in other leagues with practice schedules that covered multiple days a week. With four kids, he and his wife found the schedule to be unmanageable, but the i9 Sports’ model of combining practice and play into a single weekly event was the solution his family needed.
Also, the positive, fun-filled environment ensures that children are eager to participate, free from the pressure of overzealous sideline coaching.
The decision to expand
When asked why he bought the Savannah territory, Jay says that he and his family have ties from living there for almost six years. Plus, he felt that it was a good investment.
“I like the city, and it felt like a good fit. There’s a lot of growth in Savannah, and it’s exciting to grow with the city financially. It’s a fun place to be,” he says.
Explore i9 Sports ownership
To learn more about the opportunities that i9 Sports offers and how veterans like Jay are finding success, download our free ebook about how to make a living running youth sports leagues.