One of the Leading Education Brand’s First Franchise Owners’ Son Follows in Parents’ Footsteps
“Education is the most powerful tool in America,” said Sylvan Learning franchisee Alex Ho. It’s a message that’s been ingrained into his core values since his childhood by his parents, who immigrated to the United States in the 1960s and believe that education is one of the most prominent foundational assets in the country.
Originally from China, Ho’s parents left the country for Taiwan to attend college during the cultural revolution. With a passion for education and helping others learn, the Hos initially immigrated to Texas, but then shortly after settled in Atlanta where they both received their master’s degrees in library sciences. The two eventually moved to Michigan, where Ho’s father Leo received his doctorate in library science from Wayne State University. Both of Ho’s parents worked in libraries within the Detroit Public Library system for several years, but wanted to further immerse themselves in the academic community in the greater Detroit area.
After being introduced to Sylvan Learning and completing due diligence of their own, the Hos found that the brand provided the perfect opportunity for them to fulfill their desire to better the academic lives of students while tapping into their entrepreneurial sides. By opening the doors to the West Bloomfield and Brighton Sylvan centers in 1984, the Hos became one of the first sets of franchisees in Michigan for the brand. They were pioneers of what would grow to become the leading supplemental and enrichment learning franchise in the country.
“I was born into the Sylvan Learning franchise family,” said Ho. “My parents’ business shaped me not only as a student, but as an individual, and while they encouraged me to follow my dreams and take on a career path in whatever field I desired, I always felt drawn to the Sylvan brand.”
Ho received his undergraduate degree at New York University before taking on several investment banking roles in New York City. He also worked overseas in Hong Kong for nearly six years. However, in 2011, his mother was suddenly diagnosed with cancer, and Ho decided to move back to Michigan to care for her.
“At the time of her diagnosis, my mom was still overseeing my parents’ Sylvan Learning centers,” said Ho. “But because she was battling her illness, my mom could no longer take on the daily tasks of being a franchisee. So, I transitioned to take over ownership of the center in West Bloomfield. I was in between jobs and decided that this would be my next career move.”
Even though Ho’s mother is now cancer free, he remains a franchisee at the West Bloomfield center—a role that he’s fulfulled since 2013. Due to the success he’s experienced, Ho has even decided to open a second location in metro Detroit to be able to help additional students in the area.
Ho’s second Sylvan Learning center is set to open in early 2019. The seasoned Sylvan franchisee plans to further expand throughout Michigan in an effort to saturate the Detroit marketplace as well as reach as many students as possible to help grow their academic careers through Sylvan’s programs.
“Alex has a special place for Sylvan in his heart and mind due to the fact that he grew up with the brand by being a part of his parents’ centers for so many years,” said Georgia Chasen, Sylvan Learning’s vice president of franchise development. “We have many franchisees in the system who went to Sylvan as a child or sent their children to a Sylvan and saw the results that our programs provided. Having this emotional bond to the brand and knowing you have the ability to help students improve academically in school is so rewarding for our local business owners. We’re always looking for qualified franchise partners who want to make a difference in their community. Becoming a Sylvan franchisee means creating a legacy for both your family and community.”