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Names: Steve Sudberry and Will Reid

Franchise: Home Care Assistance, Cincinnati

Number of years in business/Number of employees: 3 years in business/140 employees

Initial investment: Company estimates the investment at $199,000 to $223,950/ Sudberry and Reid paid $230,000

Would you go into business with your best friend? Steve Sudberry and Will Reid did. The two, who met in fifth grade, have known each other almost 40 years. As BFFs, they went to school together, played sports together, went on dates; they were even best man at each other’s weddings.

But when they decided to open a Home Care Assistance franchise together, people tried to warn them off: It will wreck your friendship, they said.

Sudberry and Reid didn't listen. Good thing, too, because they have co-owned their Cincinnati-based franchise for three years now and have never looked back.

"Steve and I have been lifelong friends," said Reid by email. "Growing up and playing sports together, we were extremely competitive on and off the field. That always seemed to spill over to the ping pong table, where we had epic matches with one another! Having teamed up once again, we are really enjoying the competitive aspects that come with owning our business together and working for a common goal."

What's more, the two say that their differences as people have brought synergy to the business: Reid takes the lead with business development, and Sudberry handles the operations side, though both have had solid experience: Sudberry has been an entrepreneur for 20 years, having started a marketing-production agency and a food-distribution business; Reid's background is in the printing industry.

But, that's the business part; what the two men also share is an emotional foundation for their mission. Sudberry, especially, was drawn to the home-care sector because he was one of his mom's primary caregivers for many years, tag-teaming with his sisters, even as he ran a business and raised his own family.

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For Sudberry, then, Home Care Assistance was a good choice, and one he partnered on with his BFF. "Home Care Assistance has the best care model in the industry," Reid writes of that business choice. "The 'balanced care method,' coupled with cognitive therapeutics, is best in class. The operations and marketing support is amazing."

Of course, there have been some issues along the way: "City building inspectors and the building permit process -- 'red tape' challenges," Reid responds, when asked about those obstacles.

Today, however, things are going well, and the partners' plan is to develop four more offices in Cincinnati. As buddies, they also remain close; and why not? They're doing something that gives them personal satisfaction, and they're caring for their clients even as they care for each another -- even after 40 years of ups and downs.

Those downs? "If Steve and I ever need to work through an issue," Reid says, "it gets settled on the ping pong table!"

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