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Master Franchise Opportunities

Master Franchise In Focus: Lee Putman Takes Control

Lee Putman is positive his life is in a much better place, both personally and professionally, since he made the bold decision to join Stratus Building Solutions, the nation’s leading green commercial cleaning and janitorial services franchise. Putman is the master franchisee of Stratus Building Solutions of Indianapolis, a title he’s had since opening his doors May 1, 2017. “I wish I had done it much earlier,” he says.

Putman and his wife Sheri, who works part-time in the sales department, are proud to be valued members of the Stratus Building Solutions family. While Lee wishes he had made the leap sooner, 10 years ago he never imagined he would operate a janitorial services business. “I spent years working with new medical technologies, helping doctors perform less invasive services,” says Putman. “Janitorial services was the furthest thing from my mind. I will say this, my mother made me clean our house every single Saturday growing up, so cleaning wasn’t new to me.”

The Indiana native accumulated more than three decades worth of professional experience as a successful sales and marketing professional. That experience includes a 22-year stint at one of America’s oldest and largest multi-national medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company. “I was in charge of two different sales divisions that were responsible for $600 million in revenue,” Putman says.

Putman used the lessons learned from the major conglomerate to help build a venture startup from scratch. “I had up to that point spent nearly my entire life in corporate America,” he says. “The challenge of building something from the ground up was intriguing. Couple that with the opportunity for a bigger payday and it seemed like a lot of fun.”

His experience and input paid immediate dividends for the startup, as annual revenue went from zero to more than 100 million during his nine-year tenure. The growth and expansion of the company turned out to be a catch-22 for Putman. The company wanted to consolidate all operations in one location. The Putman family was faced with a dilemma; move or keep their roots in Indiana.

“My family made the decision that we wanted to control our own destiny,” Putman recalls. “I spent a majority of my career crisscrossing the country and the globe on business-related travel. The quality of life wasn’t what I wanted. Sheri began pressing me to look for a backup plan. The deeper I dug into the possibility of entrepreneurship, the more enchanted I became. My entire career, I built businesses for other people. It made sense for me to build something for my own family.”

With a strong desire to control his own future, Putman reached out to executive recruiters to determine his best course of action. “We examined several potential possibilities and exercised our due diligence before determining Stratus Building Solutions provided us the best opportunity to accomplish our goals,” he says. 

Lee and Sheri made the decision to invest in Stratus Building Solutions in 2017. With her background as a realtor, the Putmans were confident about their prospects as they put their signatures on the dotted line.

“Stratus Building Solutions, with its superior business model and recurring revenue stream, was right up our alley,” says Putman. “With our combined experiences, we were naively confident that we would be successful once we got our footing.”

Part of the confidence comes from knowing their community. Indianapolis is their long-time home. They have strong relationships, professionally and personally. Lee and Sheri understand the concepts of what makes a successful master franchisee. Plus, they’re good at what they do.

“We win about 70 percent of deals when we’re pitted against another cleaning company,” Putman says. “We’re new to the market, but we know businesses and organizations are frustrated with the options presented to them within the cleaning industry. Stratus Building Solutions present ourselves differently. We’re providing a partnership, and it doesn’t take long to notice the difference in customer service and satisfaction that we provide.”

Finding their footing didn’t come immediately. The Putmans were successful at securing relationships with local customers when they launched their business. Finding unit franchisees came at a slower pace, which put the onus on their shoulders, and elbows, to get the job done.

“When we first began, two of our good friends who operated dentist offices signed us to clean their facilities,” he says. “What they didn’t know was that it was Sheri and I who were actually doing the cleaning the first few months. You do what you gotta do in those early days.”

It’s the hard work, attention to detail, and never quit attitude that helped Putman throughout his professional career, and now as an entrepreneur. Being on the front lines of the cleaning business also provided proper perspective. “It was a mixed blessing,” says Putman. “It gave me a real appreciation and understanding of what our unit franchisees are facing.”

Putman loves helping unit franchisees realize their business ownership dreams. He likes the fact that Stratus Building Solutions provides opportunities for budding entrepreneurs of varying backgrounds and economic status. He says the key to success with the company is the willingness and desire to work hard.

“Helping people has been a nice byproduct of becoming a Stratus Building Solutions owner,” he says. “With the assistance of this fantastic business model, we’ve helped people become and succeed as small-business owners. We’re helping to change the quality of life for several people and that’s a nice benefit that I didn’t see when I first looked at it.”

At a critical juncture in his life, Putman chose to control his own destiny. “I worked really hard for others and was well compensated for it,” he says. “We were faced with a choice. Roll the dice or play it safe.  “In my mid-fifties I didn’t want to be in the position of being sixty and looking for a job.  We agreed it was time to control our own destiny!” We had confidence in our ability to sell and took a big swing; because we knew it would be beneficial to us in the long run. The risk was worth the reward.”

That’s a message he emphasizes during discussions with potential Stratus Building Solutions owners. “I’m a big believer in taking control of your future if you have the ability to do so. I think people should be confident in taking that step. Believe in yourself, attack it, and make it happen.”

Putman is enjoying the perks that come with being a master franchisee. “I am much more relaxed, healthier, and more active now that I have a normal existence,” he says. At 57, he has more time to spend with his wife and six children. The “r” word, retirement, hasn’t even crossed his mind. “I have a lot of gas left in my tank. I don’t see myself sitting on the beach for the rest of my life. I need to challenge my brain. This model allows for me to consider investing in additional markets. I foresee a time when I am doing one million a month in sales. The sky is the limit at Stratus Building Solutions. We’ll see where we can take it.”

Are you, like Lee Putman, ready to take control? Does the Stratus Building Solutions franchise opportunity sound like it could be for you? If so, learn more at