A major, sudden move can be an incredibly jarring experience, but there are ways to ease the transition of your Permanent Change of Station (PCS). MilitaryByOwner.com is a veteran-owned business that seeks to alleviate your stress and make this move easier. Business owners and co-founders, Dave and Sharon Gran, have become the PCS gurus, a power couple seeking to make life better for relocating military families.
Through the years, the Grans had their share of PCS orders. They know firsthand that locating, leasing, buying and selling residences always present a challenge. But, it was Dave’s father who asked whether the military had a service to connect moving military families.
They researched and discovered many “for sale by owner” websites. Many of them were national, while others focused on a region. What they didn’t find was a page with the type of focus needed to support a military-needs niche. We talked with Dave and Sharon about their company and how it has effectively filled that void.
Their Life Of Service
Dave and Sharon met at Southern Illinois University. Dave completed his aviation degree and enlisted in the Marine Corps. From there, they long-distance dated as he attended The Basic School (TBS) and then moved to the Field Artillery School (FAS). Immediately after he checked into his first unit, he asked for leave over Christmas, so he could wed Sharon. The happy couple have been married for 32 years and have four boys: Ryan, Kyle, Mark and Adam.
The Grans created MilitaryByOwner in 2000, a few years before Dave’s retirement. During those years, Sharon shouldered most of the weight of their new company. Currently, sons, Ryan and Adam, work alongside their parents as part of the MilitaryByOwner home office team.
Prior to her life as a military spouse, Sharon taught middle school math in Illinois and was a math/software consultant at a publishing company. After she married Dave, Sharon continued to teach math on base and at the local community college. She also stayed busy working to get her real estate license and carting the boys around to their hockey games.
Dave started his military career in artillery, but spent most of his 21 years of military service as an intelligence officer. The couple saw assignment to Camp Lejeune, Virginia Beach, Quantico and Camp Pendleton. Dave deployed to the Mediterranean with 24th MEU as BLT S-2. After a tour at the Atlantic Intelligence Command building contingency intel products for MEUs, Dave transferred to 15th MEU and did two Persian Gulf deployments. The next move took them to Marine Forces Europe as a G-2 followed by a tour at HQMC as Intel OccFld Sponsor and finally to the Marine Corps Systems Command before retiring.
Their Life In Business
The Grans founded the company in 2000 after a PCS move home from Germany. Their experiences showed the need to connect military families that were selling or renting their homes related to inbound personnel PCS orders. It took a few years to gain acceptance, but eventually the business really took off.
They hired their first employee, a military spouse, in 2004. The Grans noted, “We were growing so fast that we almost went out of business prior to a major site rebuild launch that significantly improved our ability to handle the growth.”
The couple hired several more employees in 2005 and made the Inc5000 list of “America’s Fastest Growing Companies” in 2010 and 2011. To keep up with technology and the expectations of their marketing community, MilitaryByOwner.com has rebuilt their site from scratch four times since 2000 along with adding both iOS and Android apps. As Dave says, “We are currently in our fifth rebuild. It’s going to be an exciting launch for us, as we are adding many new capabilities to make home searching easier.”
Sharon and Dave look forward to the sponsorship opportunities that the Marine Corps Association & Foundation offers. They currently sponsor:
- Sept 2018: MilSpouseFest (Norfolk)
- Sept 2018: Military Influencer Conference (Orlando)
- Dec 2018: MilSpouseFest (Camp Lejeune/Fort Bragg)
- Feb 2019: AFCEA/US Naval Institute WEST (San Diego)
MilitaryByOwner helps military families find, sell and rent homes near all the U.S. Military Bases. They also allow real estate agents and property managers to advertise homes to increase the choices around each base.
Their Debt To Military Service
Dave’s 21 years in the Marines has clearly had the greatest impact on his life. As he remembers, “My experience was that you would always have responsibilities that were beyond what you were taught.” Responding to a PCS, he says, “you generally knew what to do from past assignments or training, but there were additional responsibilities that were new.”
As an entrepreneur, Dave values this experience in solving problems and learning new skills. He observes, “That is essentially what I did for 21 years in the Marines. From a leadership perspective, being a servant leader and taking care of your people remain a constant.”
The MilitaryByOwner vision is to be the first destination a military service member goes to place an advertisement online. The site leverages a powerful existing network that includes present and former military service members, along with their families and the communities that support them.
Optimizing the Internet links buyers and sellers of homes along with landlords and prospective tenants. The Grans promise to provide this service at a reasonable price with outstanding customer service. As they point out, “We are more than a website. We have built a world class customer service department staffed primarily from experienced military spouses with multiple PCS moves of their own.”
Dave and Sharon want to continue as the market leader in the military real estate niche. They see a market where, “When you PCS, MilitaryByOwner should be one of the first places to check when searching for your next home.”
MilitaryByOwner provides a comprehensive low cost means for military members and their families to advertise their homes for sale or rent. The service will be provided throughout the year and will include all locations where military members may be stationed including overseas assignments.
The company aggressively advertises across the web and other military publications, as well as leverages web-based search engine postings to attract to the site military personnel and the general public. Also helping to ease a PCS is that:
- Civilians and real estate professionals can advertise homes on MilitaryByOwner.com.
- The company offers extensive resource articles, blog posts and eBooks to start to bridge any information gaps.
As well, it’s worth noting that local and national businesses wanting access to the military market can find a good path through local business advertisements, national banner campaigns and a weekly newsletter with 490,000 current subscribers.
Picking up and starting over in a new place is often a daunting task. After all, you’re leaving a community and incredible memories. As a company co-founded by a Marine and his spouse, MilitaryByOwner.com has a very deep understanding of this. With that experience as their guide, they’ve stepped up and helped many military families to ensure there are some elements of a PCS that are easier and much less stressful than ever before.
Originally appeared in The Mission