Top Performing Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Owner Turns Passion Into Successful Business

One of the key benefits of franchising is the ability to establish yourself as a business owner in something you’re passionate about. Ben Ihde of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, loves communing with nature and birding, making him a natural fit for Wild Birds Unlimited franchise ownership. The company specializes in feeding and protecting backyard birds. Prior to this endeavor, Ihde was quite a successful businessman in his own right. He was a stalwart PPG Paints distribution company employee, working diligently with the family-owned operation for 15 years. He eventually became the business’ successor, purchasing the assets from the previous owner. From there, he poured his effort into achieving new heights, ultimately topping out with sales nearing $10 million and an employee base of over 20 workers. He sold the company for a profit in 2019, stayed on an extra year to help with the transition, then set out to do something he truly loved. He spread his wings and became an instant top-performing franchisee in the system. Above all, he was glad to be back on his own path, in charge of his own destiny and future.

Ben was initially convinced he could stay in Corporate America. But that feeling faded as he realized he longed for a different path forward—an entrepreneurial one. “I thought I could stay an employee after selling my business and just ride my time out in the new corporate world I found myself in. However, I quickly realized I really needed the flexibility I was used to and to make decisions for myself. To have a direct impact again, I did not want to start completely from the ground up, and that’s where a franchise was attractive. They have existing locations, territories, infrastructure, SOPs, training, etc. I felt I could hit the ground running even though I was unfamiliar with the industry. I would have to conform to some franchise rules but the flexibility and known branding made it a good fit.” Long before he became a Wild Birds Unlimited franchisee, he was a regular customer, so he knew the business fairly well. And he left the figurative nest of Corporate America behind for good when he bought his Wild Birds Unlimited franchise from a previous owner in 2021.

Taking Flight to Franchise Ownership

Though he made the right decision in following his passion for the Wild Birds Unlimited opportunity, there was still plenty to learn about being a franchise owner in the system. He refers to this period as his “crash course,” but he found the training he was provided to be exemplary. “Wild Birds Unlimited has a great training program for new owners around product and their general way to go to market. They also have dedicated marketing staff and technical staff. We also really leaned on our business coach. The franchise provides a lot in the beginning as well as technical folks, to get POS infrastructure up to date. But in our case, we also purchased an existing location – so we really leaned on staff and the previous owner a bit. The first 90 days were rather challenging, but after six months, we had a pretty good handle on what you needed to do to operate most areas of the business.”

Bringing People and Nature Together for the Greater Good

Wild Birds Unlimited is a perfect fit for those who appreciate the beauty of nature and the many feathered friends it supports. It’s made the brand the top-ranked franchise for franchisee satisfaction for the last ten consecutive years. Ben Ihde counts himself among them and doesn’t hesitate to share this sentiment with others. He takes pride in how he and his wife transitioned from their previous careers to follow their passion. “I’m very proud that my wife and I were able to change careers completely. It is very challenging and terrifying to walk away from something you did for 25 years and just start fresh. We were simply customers of Wild Birds Unlimited and clicked on the link one day that said, ‘You can own a franchise.’ We thought, ‘Let’s check it out,’ and now we’re already looking to grow past our current location. With goals, dedication, and hard work, I really do believe you can accomplish almost anything!”

The Sky’s the Limit for Wild Birds Unlimited Franchise Owners

With franchise ownership, you get to determine the level of success you want to achieve. And thanks to the training and ongoing support provided to franchisees, you get a built-in framework and a proven business model to help you do it. Ben Ihde has no plans to hit the brakes, and it’s all gas from this point forward. “My goal is five locations, and I’m currently closing on my second after being in the system for a year and a half.” It shows that when you follow your passion, you’ll never really have to work another day in your life.

To learn more about the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise opportunity, visit, email [email protected], or call 888-730-7108.