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2014 MVP Awards: Honoring Outstanding Multi-Unit Performers

The best franchisees are some of the hardest-working and kindest people around. They provide customers with consistent products and services, give back to their communities, and provide jobs for thousands of employees. Each year we recognize outstanding franchisees with our MVP (Most Valuable Performer) Awards. We thank Comcast Business Services for sponsoring the awards. Here's a preview of this year's winners.

Noble Cause Award

Sam Anabi was a police officer before becoming a franchisee. He now has 200 gas stations and 23 restaurants (Del Taco and Subway). His people-centered approach shows in how he cares for his employees, customers, and the needy in the communities where he operates.

American Dream Award

Nachhattar Chandi has come a long way from walking 3 miles to school on India's dirt roads. He came to the U.S. in 1991 and got his first job managing a small gas station in California. Today his company operates 17 Arco AM/PM locations, 6 Express Tunnel Car Washes, 3 Del Tacos, and a Subway--and mentors young people to help them achieve their own dreams.

Influencer Award for Former Pro-Athlete

Don Davey, a former NFL defensive tackle and a winner on the field, is now leading a squad of 20 Firehouse Subs locations in Florida--and has signed a 10-year agreement to develop 42 more in Wisconsin. Not enough? This six-time Ironman finisher was named the IFA's 2103 Franchisee of the Year.

Influencer Award for Husband & Wife Team

Bobby and Lori Forrest met in college, married, and pursued their own careers. In 2004 they teamed up to buy two corporate Sport Clips salons and build a third. He works in sales, marketing, and HR, while she handles operations. Today they have 8 high-performing salons in Texas.

Spirit of Franchising Award

Paul Hitzelberger was a driving force behind Del Taco's growth for 27 years. As CMO, he introduced iconic Del Taco products such as the Grilled Chicken Soft Taco. In 2001, he bought 8 Del Taco in Utah. Today, with 26 he continues to provide mentoring and leadership to his employees, and partners with many community organizations.

Innovation Award

Craig Joy takes a people-driven approach to his business, and his employees' low turnover rate is a testament. He began franchising with Taco Bell, and in 1990 teamed up with Checkers and was their 2013 Franchisee of the Year, not only for his performance, but also for his talent for innovation and creating efficient ways to operate his six Tampa-area restaurants.

Community Involvement Leadership Award

Bruce Keehn and Andrew Lynn are partners and longtime friends who have carved out a successful life in franchising. Keehn came from a New Jersey family and worked his way through college. Lynn comes from "old money" and is a developer. These diehard Checkers franchisees have shown a passionate commitment to their communities.

Veteran Award

Jim Lager is a U.S. Army veteran who likes to be hands-on in everything he does. His first experience in franchising came with Snap-On Tools. Success led him to Pirtek, a hydraulic hose and fitting service brand. His franchisors love his work ethic and dedication to the system. Today he operates 3 units of each brand and has big goals for the next decade.

Single-Brand Growth Leadership Award

Larry Lee had a career in real estate before franchising came calling. He has development rights for McAlister's Deli in Texas, New Mexico, Idaho, and Utah. He has 19 McAlister's open and has been the brand's Franchisee of the Year for the past 3 years. He's also a franchisee for Wings 'N More Express and a partner/franchisor for Zio's Italian Grill and Don Pablo's.

Multi-Brand Growth Leadership Award

Tony Lutfi is a poster boy for franchising success. He started in the 1990s with Arby's and Long John Silver's in Northern California and now owns 130-plus restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Missouri. And he's growing again, diversifying his portfolio to include 29 Sears Appliance Showrooms and Sears Hardware and Appliance stores.

Noble Cause Award

Chris Moore is a Watermill Express franchisee with 92 units in the Houston area. He knows his customers, what they want, and why they want it, allowing him not only to become a successful franchisee, but also to contribute to his communities in many ways.

2014 Multi-Unit 50 Rankings

Looking for a new brand? Don't miss this year's "Multi-Unit 50" lists, ranking brands by greatest number and percentage of multi-unit franchisees in their system.

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