Blaze CEO Jim Mizes Retires, CFO Amanda Shaw Steps In
Jim Mizes, left, sitting with co-founders Rick and Elise Wetzel.
Blaze Pizza announced that Jim Mizes retired as president and CEO. Mizes, who led the company for just over two years, will be by replaced by Amanda Shaw on an interim basis.
Shaw served as the CFO since January 2018 and prior to that spent more than 12 years with Bloomin’ Brands, the parent of Outback Steakhouse and others. She served as SVP, chief accounting officer, helping Bloomin’ Brands’ go-private.
The departure was announced several days after Shaw took over as CEO and seemed sudden. While reporting a Franchise Times story earlier this year about Blaze Pizza's explosive growth, Mizes said he was personally eager to take the chain public. And the company had already begun investing in that next phase of financing and growth.
“When companies don’t go from 300 to 700, it’s because they don’t realize that what got you to this phase won’t get you to the next phase,” said Mizes. “We’ve invested in accounting to one day move toward an IPO.”
Rick Wetzel, who founded Blaze along with his wife Elise and serves as chairman of the company, said Mizes set the tone for all the company growth, professionalizing and systematizing the company operations ahead of growth.
“Jim came in and put in all the people, the culture, the systems and processes and forward investing for our franchise growth. Jim did all that, and our foundation is phenomenally strong. Anything you pound on is rock solid,” Wetzel told Franchise Times.
The company was unable to provide much context around Mizes’ departure, but in an email statement Rick Wetzel said having someone like Shaw ready to take the mantle was a major strength of the business.
“One of our strengths is the bench of our leadership team, which is a blend of the original Blaze team as well as tenured industry leaders who bring new perspective,” said Wetzel. “While we will miss Jim, we understand that he is ready to pass the torch and we’re ready for the transition that has been in the works this past year. We’re excited about our future as we enter into the next phase of our growth with the launch of new specialty crust offerings as well as an aggressive focus on delivery and carry out.”
According to a press release, the company said Mizes had worked with Shaw to “ensure a smooth transition for the business.” A search committee has already begun the search for a permanent successor to Mizes, considering both internal and external candidates.