Trevor Harris, a recent Webster graduate, had never traveled outside the Midwest until one week…
Alum starts Jimmy John’s franchise
As Torrey Woodcock attended business classes at Webster University, he worked at a Jimmy John’s part-time. Eleven years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he now owns four Jimmy John’s franchises.
After graduation, Woodcock decided he wanted to open up his own Jimmy John’s franchise. At the time, there were only 500 stores nationwide, and he thought it would be a good business opportunity. He had $40,000 saved from being called up from Army Reserves to active duty, and he needed another $40,000 to pursue his plan.
“I pitched the idea to my dad, and he floated me a loan for the other half,” Woodcock said. “We went up to corporate headquarters and got a good vibe on it and decided to pull the trigger.”
Woodcock opened his first Jimmy John’s location in Washington, Mo., in January 2008. He opened up a location in Rolla in 2011, one in Union in 2015 and another in Sullivan in 2017.
Woodcock’s journey to his business degree included stints at East Central College and online courses at Columbia College, which he took while mobilized with the Army Reserves in Fort Leonard Wood.
Webster University offers 36 different locations on military bases, but Woodcock finished his classes on the Webster Groves campus.
“I was not your traditional Webster student,” Woodcock said. “It was kind of a hybrid [of classes], and they ended up putting everything together. So, I went to Webster because they were military friendly.”
To this day, Woodcock serves as the 332nd Medical Logistics Company Commander with the Army Reserves.
“Some schools are just out to take advantage of what they can and get as many dollars out of a student that they can,” said Jason Blakemore, who works with military students on campus. “Webster is trying to make a living, but making it advantageous for the student to get a degree that will be worth a lot when they get out of the service and try to make a career.”
Blakemore said Webster offers a USA Scholarship to lower the cost of tuition for service members.
With the new Sullivan location recently opening, Woodcock has been spending most of his time there. However, he fills in at all locations depending on what is going on that week.
“When I opened the Washington store, I did everything,” Woodcock said. “The first week we were open, I worked 120 hours that week … Now, I have a good team. I have an area manager, an administrative manager, and between the three of us, we all average around 40 hours a week.”
When Woodcock decided to attend Webster, he moved in with his friend John Strauser. Strauser was the general manager of the Creve Coeur Jimmy John’s and also decided to hire Woodcock.
Strauser said he marveled at the work ethic Woodcock had when they previously worked together in the kitchen at Meramec Caverns. He also said Woodcock would go above and beyond what was necessary when he worked at Jimmy John’s.
“There was a day that a customer started choking, and Torrey rushed over to remedy the situation as I called 911,” Strauser said. “I have been in the food industry for 15 years and have never seen that before. I can’t imagine a lot of people rushing into the situation like he did to help that person out.”
Woodcock said his priorities have changed now that he is married with two young kids. Instead of opening up new stores, he plans on buying real estate and moving his existing franchises to locations he owns, like he did in Sullivan.
Down the road, Woodcock hopes to diversify his business portfolio to where he is not just locked into Jimmy John’s. He said he is still on the bottom of the learning curve when it comes to real estate.
“I really like planning and developing,” Woodcock said. “That’s kind of what I enjoy the most in doing and opening new stores. So that is going to be my focus going forward.”