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A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single issue


When adult son Ben was in grade school, he and his classmates were tasked to write a report on a relative or ancestor who had immigrated to the United States. Luckily for him, his grandmother had known her great-grandfather Andrew P. Johnson. And even better, my mom’s older cousin was his grandchild and knew well the story of his arrival in the U.S., so Ben set out to interview her.

Married with two sons, Sweden-born Andrew traveled solo by boat in the late 1800s, landing in New York and making his way to southern Minnesota. There, he worked in a quarry until he could earn enough money to send back for his wife, two children and his sister to make the arduous trek over the ocean and the sweeping plains to join him.

Interestingly, he sent back to Sweden enough money over the years to bring 17 relatives to the U.S., all who lived with him and his wife until they could make their own way in their new country.

It’s the brave soul who leaves their comfort zone, their home, to live in another country and build a new life. Who knows what Andrew encountered that we don’t know about? I’m sure his first few years here were fraught with uncertainty and some unwanted surprises. But as far as we, his descendants, know, he wasn’t escaping from anything—just looking for opportunity.

I’m thinking one of the stars of our cover story this month was searching for opportunities when he immigrated here, too. As FT staffer Nick Upton tells us, Iranian Farzin Ferdowsi, the patriarch of a franchise business based in Tennessee, was in the U.S. as a young college graduate, building his career in the ‘70s at Pizza Hut when the Iranian Revolution broke out. I won’t spill the details, because you’ll want to discover them when you read Nick’s story. Suffice it to say, Ferdowsi was thrust into a leadership role with his family, well before he ever thought he would be.

But it’s a story of opportunity, too, as Ferdowsi partnered with his college roommate, Homey Aminmadani, to build Management Resources Co. or MRCO, a large, multi-unit restaurant operator. Older now, they have built their company for their children, wanting to leave a legacy for them. How have the children fared in their roles as business leaders? How did Ferdowsi and Aminmadani train the next generation to succeed? Thumb to page 20 to find out.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

Their story is part of a bigger package we feature every August: Franchise Times’ Restaurant 200, the top 200 restaurant franchisees in the nation based on sales. And of course, MRCO made the list. As Nick reports, the numbers are eye-popping. The largest operator topped out at $1.65 billion in sales. You’ll have to check out that report for more interesting facts that have been sliced and diced.

You’ll also want to read about the turnarounds of casual-dining operators Fazoli’s and Boston’s, and the “Uberizing” of food delivery. You’ll discover a story where obstetricians are recommending their patients call mosquito control franchises, and a column where one of our editors describes himself as an “urbanist geek.” And don’t miss the update on a franchise that’s getting into a sticky situation with the IRS.

It’s all here for you—undiscovered franchise journeys. We do the travel; you sit back and learn. You don’t even have to leave your comfort zone—or even your home (unless your mailbox is down the street)—for the opportunity to read Franchise Times each month. We’re the brand of opportunity.

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