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Executive Ladder


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Leah Smith

Pet Supplies Plus hired David Leonardo as its senior vice president of franchising.

Monica Brown was named franchise development manager at Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centers.

Veggie Grill hired Leah Smith as vice president of marketing.

Massage Envy added Lee Knowlton as senior vice president of global franchise sales and international.

Brandon Solano joined Papa Murphy’s as chief marketing officer.

Legendary Restaurant Brands appointed Angela Discher as vice president of marketing.

Muscle Maker Grill promoted Robert Morgan to CEO of Muscle Maker Brands.

Potomac Family Dining Group named Dennis Benson as its COO.

Julie Nelson joined Franchise Business Review as a client consultant.

Randy Carucci is the new vice president of real estate at Pieology Pizzeria.

RAVE Restaurant Group named Angel Tran as vice president of digital strategy.

Donatos Pizza named Jeff Baldwin vice president of development and franchising.

Brian Balconi was hired as vice president of Retail Food Group USA.

FirstLight HomeCare hired Larry France as director of franchise development.

Sarah Stephenson was appointed chief human resources officer at CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Group.

Johnny Rockets appointed Harry Yu to senior director of information technology.

Gillian Plummer was promoted to vice president of marketing at Wayback Burgers and Sally Velcofsky was hired as vice president of franchise relations.

i9 Sports promoted President Brian Sanders to CEO and Kim Armellino to vice president of finance and administration. Jesus Romo joined as its newly created vice president of operations.


Century 21’s new CMO eyes international buyers

Fresh off the slopes as chief marketing officer at Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Century 21’s new CMO, Cara Whitley, knows a thing or two about international money.

Speaking with Franchise Times shortly after taking the reins of her new job in real estate, Whitley said her future duties are driven by two primary industry trends: customer-centricity and the inflow of international buyers.

Cara Whitley

Cara Whitley

Total international sales were estimated at $104 billion from April 2014 through March 2015, compared with the previous year’s estimate of $92.2 billion, she said, citing research from the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients. That’s eight percent of the total existing-home sales dollar volume in the U.S.

“This doesn’t even scratch the surface on the residential real estate transactions being exported, and trading hands country-to-country and continent-to-continent elsewhere in the world,” Whitley said. “We saw the trend and positioned our system around the world in the path of this market opportunity.”

In terms of catering to customers, today’s residential real estate buyers have more choices than ever and, in her words, are looking for experience, expertise and integrity. Listing recent satisfaction awards Century 21 has received, Whitley added buyers expect a personal touch during the transaction.

Even if the Fed raises interest rates a full basis point, she said the 30-year fixed rate will remain “remarkably low,” causing her to remain bullish on the American housing market for the coming years. She’s feeling equally bullish on her new position.

“Only a few short weeks in, I have received about 500 emails expressing support in my role,” Whitley said. “I must say, in all my professional years, I have never experienced such spirit, so strongly, like I have throughout this organization.”

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