Former Super Wash COO jumps to NRD
“We are exactly two hours into this new adventure, and it’s going great so far. It’s going to be a wonderful and fun ride.”
So said Susan Beth, formerly known as Susan Black-Beth, on the first day at her new job, in January. She’s the operating partner at NRD Capital in Atlanta, the franchisee-controlled private equity fund launched by Aziz Hashim last August that is now gaining steam.
Beth was the well-known chief operating officer for Super Wash, her family’s Chicago-based chain of self-serve car washes, where she served since 2000, and before that was a franchisee of the chain. When she decided to leave the family business to join NRD, it was a bombshell.
“It was a huge shock to them,” Beth says about telling her family her decision. Her father and mother, Bob and Mary Black, own the company, her older sister is CFO and her uncle runs construction and real estate. “I handed them a copy of Franchise Times with Aziz’s face on the front,” the August 2014 cover story about his new fund, “and said I think the best job in franchising just found me.”
The down side? “Now they know what Aziz looks like. He needs to avoid Illinois for awhile,” Beth joked, to avoid the wrath of her parents for luring her away.
Hashim’s hiring of Beth, who is dropping her maiden name “Black,” is the first of what he calls several major hires he plans to announce over the next several weeks. “There are few executives in franchising that have her unique combination of talents,” Hashim said about Beth. “We’re a franchisee-centric fund, and you can’t be a franchisee-centric fund if the people on your team don’t have an affinity for franchisees.
“Our fund has been very clear that we’re into partnerships. We’re not a big, bad Wall Street firm that will take you over and kick you out. Sometimes the founders on the other side are frightened” of private equity firms, he said. NRD’s goal, he added, is to invest in franchises that treat their franchisees well, and give them guidance to attract more multi-unit operators like he has been.
Hashim is selling his restaurants, operated under the NRD Holdings name and once numbering 60, to concentrate on his fund.
Beth’s main task will be to scout new brands and get to know the founders, and then after acquisitions work with the franchise to boost its appeal to operators. Two long-time employees at Super Wash have been promoted to fill her former role, each taking half the duties.
At NRD Capital, she expects a non-bureaucratic structure. “We’re all hands on deck. It will be a ‘whatever you need’ kind of culture,” she said.
“I don’t do well with micro-management and bureaucracy. That’s not what I was raised on; it’s not who I am personally. If you give me a task and freedom, it will get done.”
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