Veterans and service members talk business and how their skills in the military helped them become entrepreneurs.

From leading military units to leading businesses, veteran business owners are continuing to serve their country by seeking to better the communities in which they live in. Since the war on terrorism began, veteran and service member entrepreneurship has exponentially grown, with entrepreneurs opening small businesses across various industries. Jefferson City is a prime example of that growth, seeing new startups in everything from specialized dog training facilities to culinary ventures to fitness. The following Jefferson City servicemen and servicewomen have taken their skills, experiences, passions, and leadership techniques they learned in the military and utilized them to create successful businesses.

Got Your Six Dog Training

Trisha Fowler enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in 2008 with aspirations to become a K-9 handler in a military police unit. Unfortunately, the Army needed Trisha elsewhere, and as any service member knows, what is wanted and where you are needed are typically two different things. Once she returned from basic training and advanced individual training, or AIT, she decided to join the National Guard as a full-time soldier, a job she still holds. The benefits offered through the Missouri Army National Guard were Trisha’s main reason for joining the military.

Got Your Six Dog Training started in 2018 as a small in-home training and boarding program for all breeds. As business quickly grew, expansion and need for more space was inevitable. With the purchase of a 10,000-square-foot facility off Big Horn Drive, Got Your Six Dog Training was able to take their business to the next level.

“We asked Premium Pets and Kitty Critter Care to join us and brought three small businesses into one location,” Trisha says.

They continue to offer numerous programs for all breeds and skill levels of dogs. Trisha credits her military experience with providing her the ability to be a positive leader. An entrepreneurial mindset must include confidence not only in oneself, but also in decisions made for the business. Those decisions can include utilizing certain resources to better the company.

Veterans and military members have numerous resources, such as grants and small business loans, to utilize in order to start a company. Trisha’s advice to those looking to start his or her own company would be: “Follow your dreams. Life is short, so do what you love!”  

When you or a friend are looking for a one-stop-shop for all things dogs, Got Your Six Dog Training has your back — or your six!

Grate and Bread

Victoria Schulte’s life is one of persistence, resiliency, and dedication. Her parents fled war-torn Vietnam in 1984, and the ship they were on was seized by pirates. The United States and the Philippines governments worked to rescue them and they were placed in a U.N. refugee camp in Malaysia, where Victoria was born. Her parents eventually made their way to the United States with gratefulness and patriotism in their hearts. Victoria was motivated and encouraged by her parents, and in 1999 she joined the Army Reserves as a combat medic. She would go on to do two overseas deployments to the Middle East. In 2015, she was commissioned as a human resources officer. Additionally, she completed the Army’s psychological operations qualifications in 2018. Victoria is currently on orders in Moffett Field, California, but calls Jefferson City home.

Family has always been Victoria’s priority. “I love entertaining, curating beautiful displays of food, and sharing it with my loved ones,” she says. It was out of this love that Grate and Bread was created.

The mission of Grate and Bread is to provide everything from quality, artisanal charcuterie boards for individuals to larger boards for celebrations, gatherings, or any special occasion. Victoria believes “food unites people and creates a sense of family.” While Grate and Bread is a young business that started as a hobby, Victoria is excited to see how the company grows and where the road will lead.

With decades of military experience, Victoria credits much of her success to backward planning. “What I do is consider a successful end state and work backwards on what needs to be done,” she says. Having an understanding of the mission’s goals and utilizing the resources at hand will aid in accomplishing the mission. Being a “researcher by nature,” as Victoria puts it, resources are essential to having a successful business. She is part of numerous veterans’ groups that support small businesses, and she cites the Small Business Administration as a good jumping-off point for any veteran or service member looking to begin a business.

“What I do is consider a successful end state and work backward on what needs to be done.”

Victoria schlute

Her lasting advice to those wanting to start their own business: “Start with your business plan . . . then, do research into the product or services you’re selling . . . what sets you apart from others? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

ElmSt. Boxing Club

Mario Antonio grew up in southeast Los Angeles, looking to create a positive path to take in order to set a good example for his younger sisters. His decisions and choices led him to enlist in the United States Navy in 2008. He left the military in 2012 and came to Jefferson City in 2016. While he loved the city from the beginning, there was a void he felt, and he decided to fill that emptiness by starting ElmSt. Boxing Club. While the namesake may sound like it is named after a street, the real meaning behind the name is an abbreviation for “elevated mindset.”  

Mario ensures ElmSt. Boxing Club truly stands up to its meaning daily. He believes that the gym provides a “physical, emotional, and psychological experience that we engage in daily.”

While many people think a boxing gym is only designed for experienced or up-and-coming boxers training for their next bout, that is not the reality at ElmSt. Boxing. The gym is open “for all who wish to elevate whatever aspects of their life,” Mario says.

The gym is open “for all who wish to elevate whatever aspects of their life”

Mario Antonio

Boxing is not about violence, but rather about movement and culture and art intertwined. Since opening the doors, Mario has strived to make ElmSt. Boxing Club an outlet for not only himself, but his clients, who quickly grew into, as he calls it, “an elevated family.”

From his experience in the Navy, Mario has adopted and instilled the idea of unit cohesion into ElmSt. Boxing in order to create the best environment possible. Similar to a military unit leader, a business owner must be able to see the “individual power in each member and know how to exploit the strengths and sharpen the weaknesses to build your unit,” he says.

Mario has remained relentless in his endeavors and dedicated to creating a path of positivity for those around him. His lasting guidance to veterans seeking to open their own businesses is that if you “love what you do and can provide something of quality and value, then the work is nothing to shy away from.” So, the next time you are looking to elevate your mindset and throw some punches at a weighted bag, stop by ElmSt. Boxing Club and ask for Mario.

Jefferson City, for all intents and purposes, is a military town. From the National Guard Training Site to the Walk of Honor at Veteran’s Plaza to the Missouri Veterans Memorial at the Capitol and all across this great city, there are commemorations to those who served our great nation. It is not a rare occasion to see a person with a Vietnam Veteran cap on when walking down High Street, or to drive down Capitol Avenue behind a car with Iraq or Afghanistan veteran license plates.

This community invests in its veterans and toops but they also invest in this community. It is ingrained in the DNA of a service member to continually serve — to follow your dreams, not be afraid to ask for help, and love what you do. Thank you to those men and women who have served and continue to serve our country. We honor you and your families’ sacrifices, for the burdens are not put on the service members alone, but also the families that support them and the communities that welcome them home.

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Got Your Six, Grate and Bread, ElmSt. Boxing

Want to see a list of other veteran owned businesses? Click below.