Love at First Franchise

How two CMIT Solutions franchisees found love and happiness through franchising.



By Caitlin Lively

Some people spend their entire lives searching for meaning. Sometimes, that happily ever after finds you in the most unexpected of places. For Cheryl Nelan and Evan Stein, that place was franchising, and specifically Austin, Texas-based CMIT Solutions.

Cheryl and Evan were busy living their lives filled with work, kids and family, but that wasn’t enough. They each felt something missing from their life. They both decided they wanted to be the rulers of their own kingdoms, and become their own boss through franchising. They didn’t know each other at the time of their opening of the franchise locations, but their meet cute was soon to come. Cheryl and Evan met for the first time briefly at her first CMIT Solutions convention in 2011, but it wasn’t until they met again at CMIT convention 2012 in Lake Tahoe that their love story began.

Evan wanted to take Cheryl out, but being creative, he set up a night with a group of 10 so he could try to downplay his flirtation with Cheryl. As they approached the table, neither realized they were both trying to get a seat next to each other. While it was set for 10, it might as well have been for two because they both had tunnel vision. All that mattered in that moment was the conversations and relationship they were building. The night went on with drinks and gambling with the rest of the CMIT Solutions family in toe, getting interrupted countless times, but nothing could keep these two apart. Until that dreaded moment when Evan had to say goodbye and head home a day early, five long hours away from his Juliet.

They both felt that magic in the air that weekend at the conference and wouldn’t let distance fade it. Emails were exchanged back and forth, and just like that, Evan was on a plane from New Jersey to Rochester for a first official date. Cheryl wanted this to be a day to remember. She took Evan to the Strong Museum — the National Museum of Play, firing up Evans’ love for technology with some vintage video games. Then they made their way to dinner and ended the day with a walk over the pedestrian bridge to see the beautiful High Falls. Just as they opened their eyes from their first kiss, a beautiful full rainbow appeared. It was a scene picturesque enough for a movie. After that, the rest is history.


Related: Find out more about franchise opportunities at CMIT Solutions.


Cheryl and Evan were meant for each other, both natives of New York. Cheryl grew up in Rochester and Evan in Brooklyn. Cheryl has 20-plus years of experience in marketing and business management, while Evan has spent 20 years working in IT on Wall Street and his own IT company. They both decided that the best way to reach their own goals was to join the CMIT Solutions franchise network. They complement each other in a combination that couldn’t be more perfect to run CMIT Solutions together.



Love has odd ways of finding you when you don’t expect it. Before meeting each other, Cheryl and Evan could have never imagined being in the same business with a significant other. Now, they see the beauty of supporting and valuing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and the values franchising has brought to their lives is invaluable. Cheryl and Evan promise to always be true to each other and straightforward in business, without crossing over into personal territory. “I think the reason we can do that is we come at the business with different skillsets but similar values,” said Cheryl. “Holding similar values is important — in any relationship. But, do make sure your personal life doesn’t become all about business — that’s easy to do when you work together.”

Franchising gave Cheryl and Evan a life together. And just like that, they’re living happily ever after. If you’re looking for love, who knows, maybe you’ll find it at IFA’s Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting, Sept. 11-13 in Washington, D.C. Find out more at


Caitlin Lively is an Intern in the International Franchise Association’s Government Relations and Public Policy Department.