Master Sgt. Robert Fletcher: Reaching international success
By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Australia, Germany, and Japan are all exciting places for travel, but for retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Robert Fletcher, it is just another day on the job. As the owner and operator of Bob's Smokin' Southern BBQ, LLC in Fayetteville, North Carolina, his specialty sauce is now featured on grocery store shelves in those countries, and business is booming.

"Each year we have tripled in business from the previous year and we are laying the ground work to add several other countries this year," Fletcher said. "Everything is going great. It is everything I ever wanted. We started with one product and have grown to five products, which are all equally as popular as our original product. We took the time, did the research and only released a new product that met our quality standards."

The New Hampshire native says he gained most of his business experience while healing at the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His interest in culinary arts led him to attend the Entrepreneur Boot Camp offered by the Veterans Business Outreach Center at Fayetteville State University. The course covered all aspects of business development and ownership including business structure, accounting networking and building a business plan.

"Choosing the entrepreneurial track for transition has been a perfect fit for myself as a veteran. It is something positive and challenging that was fast paced and I got it," Fletcher said. "Your maximum earning potential begins when you transition. There is a lot of satisfaction in building something on the civilian side using principles and ethics you gained from your service."

Above all, Fletcher says being his own boss is one of the most rewarding aspects of his business.

"It is great as long as you stay focused. You are solely responsible for the success of your business. It is amazing what you are capable of building and it can be directly be attributed to quality assurance and quality control," he said.

In addition, while Fletcher is not willing to share the secret to his barbecue sauce, he is willing to disclose his secret to a successful life.

"It is important to stay focused on your way forward and not be concerned about 'the other guy.' You have to wish them well, make the best of your situation, be a role model and help others," Fletcher said. "You can draw from the past, but look to the future. Service is a big part of life, but your legacy is determined by giving back and challenging yourself."

Editor note: This is part of an ongoing Soldier series entitled: Where are they now