New School of Rock Boss Not Scared of Controversy
Rob Price, formerly of Edible Arrangements, is the new CEO of School of Rock.
The bravest man in franchising may be Rob Price, who accepted the CEO job at School of Rock after Dzana Homan got the boot on June 30. I’ll tell the whole story about franchisee complaints alleging intimidation and more at the music school chain in the next print edition, but Price says he is not fazed by the controversy.
“I think franchise associations can be really constructive, and I have no doubt that that group of owners is as passionate about growth and innovation as they are about anything that they’re frustrated about,” he said in an interview last week, his first on the job. “I think there’s instantly common ground with the franchisee association. I’m open to listening to any of their concerns, but we’re also going to get right to, how do we grow together?”
Did the complaints that surfaced over the last several weeks scare him away? “Not at all. This is a very special brand, not just because of how it’s growing, and not just because of the importance of what it’s done. By definition this draws passionate people,” he said. “So the idea I’m walking into a brand where their owners and music directors are passionate, if it wasn’t that way I’d be concerned that this wasn’t enough rock and roll. I am all game.
“There’s never in a complex organization perfect agreement about everything, but that didn’t scare me off at all,” he continued. “There’s so much future opportunity in this amazing brand, I didn’t really skip a beat.”
Price, who will be headquartered in Boston, whereas Homan operated out of Chicago, was most recently president of Edible Arrangements, the retailer of fruit bouquets founded by Tariq Farid that now has more than 1,300 stores. When asked how he got together with Sterling Partners, the private equity firm that owns School of Rock and selected him as CEO, he joked: “I’m very, very famous in the fruit world.”
He said infrastructure improvements have been put in place over the last three years at School of Rock, and expects those “to have a lot of value.” His focus will be to talk to everyone involved with the brand—owners, music directors, parents, etc.—and work “to unlock the full opportunity of the School of Rock experience.”
Stacey Marmolejo, a School of Rock owner in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who was the No. 3 franchisee in the brand, said she was eager to move forward, along with the Rock School Franchise Association, in which 70 franchisee-owned schools are represented.
“We (the franchisees) are really looking forward to working WITH the new CEO to get the train moving in the right direction. We have the best music education in the world; I'm confident of that. It's going to be very refreshing to quit fighting with our corporate team and work with them so that we can all achieve our goals,” she wrote.
Marmolejo went on the record with her complaints about Homan after Homan was fired; previously she and others posted anonymous complaints on the website unhappyfranchisee.com. Homan did not return requests seeking comment, nor did School of Rock’s Chairman of the Board David Zucker, who announced Homan’s departure and Price’s appointment June 30.