It’s not every day a plane crash is the start of a happy story, but surviving a horrible accident in Colombia years ago began Oscar Sanin’s quest to build a better Pilates machine and, years later, the Pilates ProWorks franchise system.
Dave Lavalle, the founder of Dryer Vent Wizard, has more enthusiasm than you can possibly imagine for cleaning your home’s dryer vent. First, there’s the dark and stormy angle: clogged vents can be terribly dangerous, causing 2,900 house fires, $35 million in properly damage and an estimated five deaths and 100 injuries each year according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
John Hewitt is poised to launch his third tax prep franchise from scratch after the other two brands he founded, most recently Liberty Tax Service where his alleged actions wreaked havoc, pushed him out in a chaotic mess. Can the man who sold 5,000 units, which he figures has ‘got to be the top 10 in the world,’ gain franchisees’ trust
and do it all over again?
For Krupal Patel, it was a can of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. Dry, with notes of citrus, papaya and mango, that beer, from Chicago brewery Half Acre, set Patel on a course that’s led him to home brewing and, more recently, to becoming a franchisee of Beerhead Bar & Eatery.
As Jollibee Foods moves into the driver’s seat, CFO Brad Reynolds expands his influence on Smashburger’s coming rebirth. ‘We have the right scar tissue,’ he says, and so plans to never make the same mistakes again.
Serving delicious, slurpable noodles in two Manhattan restaurants is one thing. Bringing them to the masses via a franchised chain is another. Ivan Orkin, known as Ivan Ramen from Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table,’ will try to make it work with backing from the new Corlex Capital.
Cal Ripken Jr. fielded dozens and dozens of questions during the past year as part of his marketing partnership with Roy Rogers, including these:
Who’s the hardest pitcher you’ve ever faced?
How do you hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball?
Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?
In a $200-million take-private deal completed in September, Focus Brands added Jamba Juice to its collection of concepts that already included Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and others. For Marie Perry, the acquisition marked the culmination of more than two years’ worth of work to reinvigorate a Jamba Juice brand she says hadn’t evolved with changing consumer preferences.
After nearly 50 years in the Sonic brand, Ricky Davis runs stores that exceed the company average in sales volume, even in small towns. One way he keeps customers coming: Make sure the juice is running down their elbows.
There’s a restaurant renaissance happening in a suburb of Salt Lake City. Much like the wealthy Medici family that bankrolled some of the greatest Renaissance artists, Four Foods Group is empowering early-stage restaurant concepts to become the next Leonardo da Vinci of fast-casual or Michelangelo of sandwich sculptors.
Ken Lopaty was fresh out of the Army in the 1950s and playing poker with a few friends. They wanted “to go into this new thing called McDonald’s and they needed a third partner. They wanted $2,000 and I didn’t have $200,” the 88-year-old man recalls today from his seven-store operation in California.
Sam Batt is a believer in TCBY, where he signed on when the brand and he both turned 30. He relies on a rockstar manager and a ‘discovery day’ for new hires to make sure they fit the store and vice versa.
Tell about your upbringing and education.
I have one older sister, grew up in Orlando. I was a latchkey kid back when that was legal. I was 3 when my dad got back from Vietnam and they divorced. My mother was the head secretary of the whole bus authority. She bought her own house in 1977. We were proud of her.
Michelle Lewis says luck has had a lot to do with her success operating Painting with a Twist franchise locations in Michigan but she adds, “that luck is also coupled with pursuing the opportunity at hand.”
Tell me about your upbringing.
I grew up in Brownsville, which is about as far south as you can go in Texas. Born and raised. I have one sister. I grew up in a single parent home with my mother who was in the real estate business, and that’s a pretty tough business.
“It’s been really hard. You birth a baby and you put it into someone’s hands and you trust them,” said Gina Butler, the founder of Gigi’s Cupcakes who sold 100 percent of her cupcake chain to a private equity firm in June 2016.
Running three locations in the first six months was a lesson in experimentation for new operators at The Learning Experience. Now their mantra is to empower their employees and ‘get the heck out of the way.’
Chefs at independent restaurants are all the rage these days, attaining celebrity status, trotting the globe and hosting their own shows while they delight diners who flock to their celebrated kitchens. But we know plenty of great chefs are working in franchising, too, driving culinary innovation that can lead to a dizzying number of people trained in their methods and a multiplied portion of the masses who can enjoy top-notch food for a generally dialed-down price. In our new Kitchen Royalty package, planned as an annual feature, we shine the light on five of these innovators whose work is coming to a franchised restaurant near you.
Beth Ewen, Tom Kaiser, Laura Michaels and Nicholas Upton
Last month we published the Restaurant 200, our annual ranking of the largest franchisees who posted another year of eye-popping growth. This month we talked to four of their standout chief financial officers to find out how they’re driving their companies forward.
Tell about your upbringing.
I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, a little college town. I’m the oldest of five kids. I was my dad’s guinea pig. He taught me how to read with flashcards when I was 2. I was kind of an experiment.
Dr. Stephen Gubernick operates a busy location of The Joint in Scottsdale, Arizona, but found himself referring his chiropractic patients elsewhere for acupuncture, something his franchise doesn’t offer. He even had a clever name for the new acupuncture clinic he wanted to open: It would be called The Point, referring to the ancient Chinese practice of pricking patients’ skin with 4-inch needles to gain health benefits, so The Joint and The Point would be side by side.
After spending time in the Air Force, teaching high school in Chicago and operating a coffee shop, Dustin Jones found his passion at Dream Vacations. “After I went on my first cruise, I realized I love this industry,” said Jones.
Jones’ history in training and education will combine well in his new role as vice president of engagement. Since joining in 2011, he has worked his way up from training specialist to managing the support team and training at the travel agency franchise.
I grew up in South Florida. I’m one of four children, and rushed through school as quickly as I could. I graduated on the same day with my associate’s degree and my high school diploma, then to college. Both my parents were the opposite of entrepreneurs. They worked the same jobs my entire life, 9 to 5. They commuted over an hour to work every day, and retired from the jobs they were in when I was born. Things were pretty predictable.
Tom Ryan wasn’t interested in being CEO of the Smashburger brand he co-founded in 2007, but as he rolls up in his BMW X6, impeccably dressed and with a full tank of confidence, it seems he was born ready for this role—and this interview.
Ryan’s impressive resume precluded his arrival at the restaurant. With a Ph.D. in flavor and fragrance chemistry and the inventions of the McGriddle and Stuffed Crust Pizza under his belt, he looked more like a flashy executive than a food science savant that’s the bedrock of his career.
I grew up in a little small town in Texas. I had 23 people in my graduating class, and I married one of them. I worked for a custom farmer for years, driving combines and building fence. We learned, I think, a very, very strong work ethic.
Eight years ago Shirin Behzadi was recovering from surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumor. During a rehabilitation process that took two years, Behzadi had to learn to walk again, to speak and, as she tells it, to take ownership of her life and help others do the same.
Aubrey Janik is wise beyond her years. Just two years after opening her first Erbert & Gerbert’s location in Plano, Texas, the 23-year-old franchisee has pushed pause on her ambitious five-year business plans to instead create The Franchise Blueprint, an online video-based franchise training course that helps other beginning franchisees avoid some of the frustrating mistakes that often cost newbies precious time and mental anguish.
Building an authentic brand that’s true to their family story is of the utmost importance to Jennifer and Tim Strickland, even if it means sharing personal—and sometimes painful—details of what led to the formation of their candy franchise.
What was your upbringing like?
I grew up in Oklahoma City, and I was a pretty quiet kid.My mother was a schoolteacher. My dad was in oil and gas, a wildcatter, and I had one younger sibling. My dad’s degree was as an astronaut, but there was more money in the oil and gas business back then. I grew up around oil and gas wells, and coming out of college that was one of my first jobs as a petroleum land man. I got into business around my freshman year in undergrad and developed a love for dissecting numbers and looking at businesses and putting together the pieces of the puzzle.
What was your upbringing like?
I was born and raised in the Seattle area. My dad was in the broadcasting industry. He was able to raise some capital and got into buying troubled radio stations and turning them around. In addition to all the normal stuff, I actually was a student of The Little Gym, that’s where it was founded. My mom was in journalism, with the Seattle Times. By 2002, we moved to Arizona and by 2002 she went to the Arizona Republic.
Kalpana, the third youngest of four Patel sisters who are all Planet Fitness franchisees, was super stressed on “expiration date” at her big-box gym in Vancouver, Washington. That’s when you send out mailers with an expiration date, and on that day in particular the gyms have a lot of sign-ups.
I grew up in New York City, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who escaped the communist regime in Hungary in 1956. My mom was 9. I was raised by Holocaust survivors, so our life was work, work, work. My dad was not in the picture. My family left a lot behind. My brother is an actor. We lived in Queens.
Craig and Dianne LeMieux are area developers for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, with more than 60 locations under their purview and two cafes of their own. ‘If you follow it, it works,’ declares Craig about the franchisor’s model.
What was your upbringing?
I grew up in Palm Springs, and never planned to go back to Palm Springs. There’s nothing to do. We played in the dirt and dug holes and rode our bikes all over. My father was a pilot for Continental and my parents got divorced when I was 6 or 7. They were a pioneer with divorce.
T-shirts, signs and pop-up ads to promote an initial public offering? Muscle Maker Grill is using those populist tools and others to promote its initial public offering under a new option known as Reg A+ or a mini-IPO.
Dominic Flis cannot pinpoint one particular day that was the best ever for his family’s Little Rock, Arkansas-based Burger King operation. But naming the worst day ever is painfully easy: There are two. “The day my Mom passed away and the day my Dad passed away,” he says, in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
‘You don’t come to me for a deal. It has to be fair,’ declares Jerry Thissen, the founder of National Franchise Sales, who over 40 years and with 26 employees has built the firm into the largest franchise brokerage outfit in the country.
In his life as a franchise attorney, Peter Lagarias says, “things often don’t resolve for on and on and on.” By contrast, results are immediate from Rotaplast International’s work, in which teams of doctors, nurses and Rotary volunteers travel to foreign lands and repair cleft palates and lips for children whose families can’t afford the surgery.
Suzanne Greco was seven years old when her big brother, Fred DeLuca, opened what became the first Subway restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1965. “I stayed in the background while everyone else was working,” Greco said, “but I aspired to be a worker, too. Fred and our mother gave me little chores, like sweeping the floor and drying dishes.”