Army veteran successfully runs multiple franchises for major pizza chain

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel has continued with his small business dreams after two battles with cancer

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Rene Jackson, continued with his small business dreams after two battles with cancer. He owns six Little Caesars locations, including one in Helotes. (Alicia Barrera, Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

HELOTES, Texas – May marks Military Appreciation Month and it’s a patriotic time to honor both active and former military who have honorably served the country.

Although it’s a time to celebrate Rene Jackson, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, he said he owes his much of his success to the community.

Jackson served in the Army for more than 20 years.

“I served for about 24 years from 1984 to 2012,” Jackson said. “I retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, and my background was in logistics.”

Jackson had plans of continuing his service in the Army far beyond that, however, “it just wasn’t in the cards.”

“I was medically retired,” Jackson said. “The first time I got diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, I had been in the Middle East for a year, and the entire time I was there, I was sick. (Doctors) attributed (it) maybe to stress, to deployment, to a change in diet. So, there were several things that we were trying to see if I could get better and it never happened.”

He was then brought to San Antonio. His family left their home in Asia to join him in the Alamo City, buy a house and start working again. During that time, Jackson said he had a lot of time to think about his life and what he wanted to do next. He wanted to use his background in logistics and become an entrepreneur.

“I had already signed on to be a Little Caesar franchisee,” Jackson said. “We had our first location, we had contractors, we had the loans pretty much in place to execute and open up this new store. I looked at a lot of different franchises, and Little Caesars had a great veterans program. It just worked really, really well. (They offered) a lot of incentives, a lot of specials, a lot of assistance (through their Tier Two System Military Veterans Program).”

Jackson then got the results of more health studies.

“I got assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion here in San Antonio while I was going through the transition (out of the military),” Jackson said. “I got diagnosed with cancer a second time and this time I had advanced throat cancer. So, we started the process all over again (with) chemo, radiation and trying to get better.”

Jackson knew he had a commitment to fulfill so, he called for backup from his most trusted troop: his family.

“My daughter was working at New Braunfels ISD as a developmental psychologist and I went to her and said, ‘Look, I need you. Help me. Help me get this store off the ground. I’m getting ready to go fight my own fight, and we’ve already signed up to be franchisees.”

Years and six franchises later, his daughter continues her role as the director of operations.

“We went to Lytle, Pearsall, Helotes, Marble Falls, New Braunfels and Hondo,” Jackson said. “We’re under contract for two more (stores). So, probably within the next six to eight months we’ll have eight stores.”

Jackson said his cancer has been in remission for more than 10 years.

In between all the orange on the walls of his stores patriotic plaques and banners honor his service, but it’s the community posters and fundraiser flyers Jackson said he’s most proud of.

“Being a retiree and being a small business owner, you also have to give something back to the communities that you operate in. You have to, because they’re going to make or they’re going to break you. If they come in and they realize that you’re sincere and you want to do something for them, I mean, look around you. We support all the high schools, you know, all the junior highs, all the elementary schools. We sponsor their events.”

Jackson said his military background in logistics is applied daily and helped him successfully operate multiple small businesses throughout the years. He said it has also allowed him to help his young employees succeed beyond the kitchen or cash register.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.