99 BIG Franchisees: John R. Davis

A Family Affair

Name: John R. Davis
Title: President/Owner
Company: United States Beef Corp.
Years in franchising: 37
Years in current position: 10
No. of units: 240 Arby's Restaurants; 1 Taco Bueno

It's a family affair all the way around at United States Beef Corp. Founded in 1969 when Bob and Connie Davis purchased their first Arby's – just five years after brothers Forrest and Leroy Raffel opened the first Arby's in Boardman, Ohio – today the Tulsa-based franchisee is headed by their sons Jeff, CEO, and John R. Davis, president. And a focus on a family-type atmosphere in its restaurants completes the picture. (Historical note: According to Arby's, its name stands for the Raffel Bros., not Roast Beef.)

In 2002, at the Arby's Worldwide Convention, U.S. Beef received the President's Award from Triarc Restaurant Group, Arby's owner. The award, given out only every other year, goes to the franchisee that has consistently shown the best overall sales, remodels, new store openings, involvement in the Arby's system, and involvement in the community. With 240 Arby's already operating, the Davises have an agreement with Triarc to build more than 100 new ones in the next 10 years. Their current locations are in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois.

In early 2005, U.S. Beef became the first Taco Bueno franchisee, signing on to open nine sites in northern Arkansas, central Missouri, and Kansas. At the time, John Davis called Taco Bueno a great fit for U.S. Beef, because the company can buy 1.5- to 2-acre parcels and build Arby's and Taco Bueno restaurants on them, economizing on and development costs.

Biggest mistake? Choosing B sites
Smartest mistake? The acquisition of other franchisees
Management method or style? Empowerment
How do you find and retain good people? Great people attract great people. We have a lower turnover rate than most QSRs.
How close are you to actual operations? Daily
How does size matter? Depends on market penetration and point of distribution.
Work week? Five days
Favorite activity? Golf
Exercise? Daily
What do you do for fun? Fish
2006 goals? Open 14 to 15 new Arby's, 2 new Taco Buenos, and remodel 6 to 8 Arby's restaurants.

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