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Executive Ladder


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Executive Vice President and COO of Midas, Mike Gould, retired after 36 years with the business.

Focus Brands promoted Paul Macaluso to president of McAlister’s Deli.

SpeedPro Imaging appointed Ryan Reeves as its vice president of franchise sales. Reeves previously held directorial positions at McAlister’s Deli and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

Slim Chickens announced the hiring of Mark Mears as its new CMO.

Brian Minning joined Penn Station Inc. as a financial analyst. The company also hired Sarah Baker in the dual roles of joint construction and operator department administrator and marketing coordinator.

Blue Moon Estate Sales named Sarah Puma as the company’s new digital platform manager.

Sam Wong was announced as the new senior director of franchise sales and development for Sonic Drive-In.

Pieology Pizzeria recruited former Panera Bread executive Clay Sanger as its chief operating officer.

The IFA realigned its structure, including numerous promotions. CFE Scott Lehr was promoted to executive vice president of development, marketing and conferences. Matt Haller was promoted to senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. Elizabeth Taylor was promoted to chief legal officer and chief of staff, and Paul Rocchio was promoted to vice president of development and member services.

Greg Toppi

Greg Toppi

Greg Esgar will be serving as BrightStar Care’s new CFO.

Happy Tax announced a re-alignment within the organization. Jason Jimenez was named as chief operating officer, and Ted Muftic was named as chief financial officer. Marcus Slater was promoted to vice president of marketing.

RCI Hospitality Holdings appointed Shannon Glaser as vice president of franchise and concept development of the Bombshells Restaurant & Bar chain.

Schlotzsky’s appointed Claire Quinn as its new vice president of global marketing.

Rory Clarke was promoted to president of Avanti Restaurant Solutions.

Lauren Liuzzi was brought on as the communications and digital marketing strategy manager for Villa Restaurant Group.

Smashburger appointed Glenn Moon as its director of franchise sales.

Vickie Volan was promoted to vice president of human resources of GPS Hospitality, a Burger King and Popeyes franchisee.

Buffalo Wild Wings named Santiago Abraham as its new chief information officer.

Ken Switzer, longtime vice president and CFO of Marco’s Pizza, joined the ProMedica Flower Hospital Board of Trustees.

Philip Romney was promoted to chief financial officer of Property Management Business Solutions.

Eric Taylor is the new president of Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar. Taylor most recently served as the senior vice president and chief development officer at Rita’s Italian Ice.

SVN International Corp., a real estate franchisor of the SVN brand, announced three new additions. Donna VanSchagen joined as director of marketing, Chris Winslow was added as managing director of international support, and Sarah Vincent was hired to serve as event marketing manager for SVN.

CFO Joseph Koss took over the role of president and CEO of Culver’s following the death of former leader Phil Keiser. Senior Vice President Jeff Bonner stepped in as chief operating officer.

Joseph Christina takes the post of CEO of Church’s Chicken.

Neal Courtney joined Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids as its new chief executive.  Courtney was the CEO of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Lapels Dry Cleaning hired Greg Toppi as its vice president of real estate and construction.

Paris Baguette appointed David Gleason as its new director of franchise development, responsible for growing sales of units.


Catherine Monson

For IFA’s new secretary, ‘a lot of hours in the day’

A few years ago Catherine Monson was asked to speak at a leadership meeting before an IFA convention. The theme was “work, life, balance,” and Monson was feeling a bit uneasy about it.

“I said, if you’re looking for someone with work-life balance, I am not your gal,” Monson replied.

While working as the CEO of Franchise Times Top 200+ brand FastSigns, Monson has a board position with Brain Balance, and is a member of the board of trustees for the business fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon. In February, she’ll be taking the reins as secretary for the International Franchise Association, of which she has been a board member for seven years. So you can forgive Monson for feeling like a workaholic.

But Monson is already setting her sights on the position, and hopes to move up through the IFA in the next few years, viewing the secretary post as a sort of preparation for future roles on the executive committee. She’ll keep records of the association, minutes of the meetings, and can work on any projects the chair delegates to her.

In her seven years as a board member for the IFA, Monson has put grassroots lobbying as a main focus. She helped the association set up the Franchise Action Network, the IFA’s grassroots program, and constantly encourages her FastSigns franchisees to send letters to Congress when various issues come up.

Part of this involves protecting the franchise business model, which Monson says has been under considerable attack in recent years. She has aimed to better navigate franchisor/franchisee relations, and shares best practices for these relations as a member of the IFA.

“A bad franchisor might have franchisees that fail as a result of them being a bad franchisor, and those failed franchisees are going to talk to their congressmen or their senator and say that the ‘big mean franchisor took advantage of me,’ ” Monson said. “Then laws get passed that have negative effect on franchising with unintended consequences.”

Monson only plans on spending about 200 to 240 hours next year as both a board member and her secretary position to work alongside her role as CEO of FastSigns and other commitments. “Heck, there are a lot of hours in the day. So there’s all kinds of time to get those things done,” she said.

When it comes to finding that work-life balance, a man named Billy Wagner gave Monson something to think about at that conference. “He asked, ’Have you ever wished that your life was different?’ I said ‘absolutely not.’ ‘That’s balance for you,’” Wagner replied.

“That he gave me permission to be a workaholic makes me feel very good about myself,” Monson said.

—Alex Van Abbema

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