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Moving Up the Ladder


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BrightStar Group Holdings has added Kevin Pignone as vice president of field support. He spent more than 20 years at UPS, most recently as vice president of domestic development for UPS’s Mail Boxes Etc.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has promoted Craig Paschich to divisional president and Tim Reed to chief development officer. Paschich and Reed will continue to focus on franchise expansion beyond Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s 14 locations (eight are franchised).

Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, a franchise brokerage firm, appointed Sandee Devine to national director of franchise sales. Devine has more than 25 years of experience building franchise systems. She is responsible for franchise sales, franchise sales advertising, registering franchise disclosure documents, the franchise sales process, and managing legal work. She will also be involved in training new franchisees and regional developers.

Rebekah Prince has joined Eisner, Kahan & Gorry as of counsel in its corporate group. In addition to franchising, Prince has represented clients in restaurant and hospitality, fitness, consumer and media/entertainment.

Taylor Hulyk joins re:group marketing firm as social media director. She will help clients establish and maintain an online presence, in addition to multimedia content and film development.

Whataburger President and COO Preston Atkinson was promoted to president and CEO, effective January 3. In addition, current Senior Administrative Officer Buddy Reno will become chief of staff, responsible for working with Atkinson to manage strategic projects and long-term company growth. Reno has worked for Whataburger for 28 years. With the promotions, Clifton Rutledge will become COO, overseeing management of operations for all 729 restaurants in 10 states. And Jack Sampson will be vice president of operations, while Rob Rodriguez will assume the role of group vice president of operations.

Papa Murphy’s International announced President Ken Calwell will become CEO, effective December 31, 2011. Current CEO John Barr will remain Papa Murphy’s chairman of the board, and will hand over day-to-day executive duties to Calwell. Under Barr’s seven-year tenure as CEO, Papa Murphy’s saw system store count increase by 500 (to nearly 1,300 stores).

Sandee Devine

Taco Bell has promoted Brian Niccol to chief marketing and innovation officer. Niccol will be responsible for integrating all marketing, food innovation, consumer insights, media, brand reputation and public-relations efforts. He replaces former Chief Marketing Officer David Owens.

Wingstop Restaurants promoted Wes Jablonski to chief franchise relations officer. Jablonski, a member of the Wingstop management team for nine years, had been chief development officer since 2009 and chief finan cial officer from 2003 to 2009. He will oversee the franchisee assistance program and serve as Wingstop’s liaison in renewals, monitoring and analysis of financial performance. Wingstop is scheduled to open its 500th location before the end of the year.

Michael Arrowsmith rejoined National Franchise Sales as a managing director. He is working with several NFS resale teams on Applebee’s, Arby’s, Denny’s, Checkers/Rally’s and IHOP brands. He will also be part of the newly formed NFS advisory services practice area, providing franchise brand development advisory services.

Firehouse Subs promoted Vincent Burchianti from vice president of finance and technology to chief financial officer. The fire station-themed sandwich chain has 456 locations.

Nineteen year-old Dillon Walker is the newest Screenmobile franchise owner and represents the third generation of Walker to join the family business. Dillon learned the corporate business from his father, Scott Walker and his uncle, Monty L. Walker Jr. Dillon’s grandfather, Monty M. Walker Sr., started franchising the mobile window & door screen repair and replacement service in 1982.

LumenOptix announced Govi Rao has joined the company’s board of directors. Rao currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Noveda Technologies, a web-based real-time energy monitoring system. He has more than 15 years of global business experience, including leadership roles in the lighting industry, building products, specialty chemicals, and coatings.

East Coast Wings & Grill, a buffalo chicken wing concept, has appointed Lee Easley as vice president of real estate & unit development. In her new role, Easley will serve as a liaison with the sales team to assist with underwriting candidates and awarding license rights.

Energy Kitchen, a Manhattan-based fast-casual chain with a health-centric menu, announces the appointment of Tapan Shah as director of marketing. He will oversee all facets of consumer and franchise marketing. In addition, Michael J. Lerman has been hired on as director of operations.

Lerman, most recently served as COO of TRUFOODS, will be responsible for enhancing Energy Kitchen’s operational efficiencies. He spent time as a managing partner at Chili’s Restaurants and multi-unit operations consultant at McDonald’s Corporation.

Volvo Rents, a provider of small-to-medium sized construction equipment, has appointed Matt Tavianini as vice president of sales and marketing. Tavianini will be responsible for implementing formal programs, systems and processes to align and integrate the company’s sales and marketing functions.

Foster’s Grille promoted Michael Cerny to president. From April 2010 to November 2011, Cerny was a consultant for Foster’s franchise concepts, and vice president of business development for Saval Foodservice.

Weed Man, a lawn care franchise, has made multiple additions to its corporate team. Roman Skrypuch is now director of franchise development (dedicated to U.S. operations); Dan Mongeon, franchise development coordinator; RJ Navia, social media and web coordinator; and Chris Lemcke (formerly technical coordinator for the company’s Canadian operations), is now technical director for U.S. operations.

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