At Apex Commercial Capital we believe in celebrating the stories and experiences of our veteran customers, who have not only served their country but have also successfully transitioned into the world of business. Today, we're honored to profile TonyAkers of Veteran Vending, a former United States Marine Corps (USMC) member, who embarked on a remarkable journey from military service to entrepreneurship, all while staying true to his mission of supporting veterans.
A Journey of Transformation
Tony's journey began in 1989 when he was at a crossroads in his life. He found himself in upstate New York, struggling with his academic pursuits and facing legal troubles. With limited options for a better future in his hometown, he decided to take a bold step and enlisted in the USMC in October 1989.
Boot camp was no cakewalk; it took his drill instructors nearly two months of relentless effort to instill discipline, direction, and honor. But those 90 days changed Tony's life forever, setting him on a path of purpose and service.
A Call to Duty
In August of 1990, Tony, now an artilleryman with Charlie Battery 1st Battalion 12th Marines, received his deployment orders. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait had led to a multinational response, including U.S. military involvement. Tony and his unit were sent to the Persian Gulf to halt the invasion into Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait.
The Gulf War was a trying time for Tony. He experienced the loss of two dear friends,Corporal Steve Campbell and Lance Corporal Aaron Pack, who were killed in action. It was a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform. While inKuwait, he witnessed the impact they had on the lives of those they were protecting, reinforcing his desire to make a difference.
Service Beyond the Uniform
After completing his active-duty service, Tony returned to his home state of New York and became a police officer. This was another opportunity for him to help others and contribute positively to his community. Throughout his 20-year career in law enforcement, Tony was committed to being a difference-maker.
Simultaneously, he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey by founding his first company, Super Amusements. His love for 80's arcades inspired him to start by placing arcade machines in laundromats and pizza places. Though many were skeptical, Tony was resolute in his vision.
A Vision for Business and Giving Back
Tony didn't see small opportunities; he saw the bigger picture. With his military background, he was unafraid to take chances and learn from failures. Soon, he expanded into the jukebox business. Tony noticed that many jukebox operators were reluctant to work with veteran organizations, as it was less profitable.He seized the opportunity, ensuring that veterans' associations earned more than he did.
In 2014, Tony sold Super Amusements after his retirement from the police department. He then founded Veteran Vending in Florida, where he continued his legacy of giving back to veterans. His business model remained unchanged: prioritize helping veterans, build a strong reputation, secure long-term accounts, hire more veterans, and focus on a long-term strategy.
A Business with Heart
One of the core principles of Veteran Vending is to donate 10% of its net profits to the USMCR Toys for Tots program. In addition to his business endeavors, Tony has dedicated significant time and energy to veterans' causes, serving as the County Toys for Tots Coordinator and holding leadership positions in various veterans' organizations, including the Marine Corps League and Veterans ofForeign Wars (VFW).
A Remarkable Legacy
EveryVeterans Day, Tony and his community gather at the local VFW for an event that celebrates the service and sacrifices of veterans. Tony urges everyone to remember that while Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, Veterans Day is to celebrate those who have served.
Perhaps the title Tony holds most dear is the Street Operator. It may seem simple, but it represents the countless challenges he's overcome and the profound impact he's made through his journey from the USMC to the world of business.
Tony Akers' story is a testament to the power of transformation, service, and resilience.From his days in the Marine Corps to his career as a police officer and his entrepreneurial ventures, he has remained true to his mission of supporting veterans. Through Veteran Vending, Tony is not only building a successful business but also continuing to make a difference in the lives of those who have served. We salute Tony and the many others who have walked similar paths, using their experiences to inspire and uplift their communities.