Success takes many forms for this year's Mega 99

Becoming a "Mega Franchisee" is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. For a third year, Area Developer has measured and highlighted those franchisees bold enough, smart enough - and fortunate enough - to succeed in the rapidly growing and lucrative market of multiunit and multi-concept development.

Once again, with a big tip of the hat to FRANdata, we have sliced and diced the numbers, ranking the largest multiunit franchisees by total number of units and by industry segment. The numbers paint an interesting, if somewhat predictable, picture: dominates. Other industry segments ranking high among our Big 99 include hair, personnel, tax services, and lodging.

Of course numbers can never tell the real story - the individual struggles, career changes, rookie mistakes, sleepless nights, and countless hours on the road, trying to balance business, family, and personal success - each defined differently, not only for the individual Mega Franchisees, but also how those personal definitions change with maturity and success.

We are grateful to those generous enough to take time from building their multi-empires to speak with us - and you, the reader - sharing their stories, both business and personal. Their backgrounds are as diverse as you might expect, maybe more. The road to the top does indeed follow many paths.

For example, take Don King, Express Personnel regional developer for the state of Georgia, who's been a franchisee of the brand for 21 years. "When I was younger, it was drive-drive-drive, build-build-buildâ€"I'm an entrepreneur! As I got older, I started doing it more from the perspective of how to help people achieve what they want - and Wow, success! You change perspective," he says. "To me now, it's about helping other folks get what they want out of life. People can achieve so much more than they think they can."

Or Guillermo Perales, 45, with more than 140 restaurants in Texas, spread over five brands. Born and raised in Mexico, Perales meshes personal accomplishment with community involvement: "I like the fact that we have been able to provide so many jobs for people. But I'm also proud to be the largest Hispanic multiunit franchise operator in the country."

This year's profiles include a wide variety of "past lives" and careers: U.S. Navy, dentist, cattle rustler, media exec, cryptologic technician, Federal Reserve Bank, family business owner, commercial property manager, and more. There's a father-daughter team, as well as a father-son duo, with son #2 preparing to join them. And while this year's Mega Franchisees all are men, many were quick to praise the part their wives played in building the business in the early years, and even through today. Faith also plays a big role in how some of our Mega Franchisees view their approach to business life.

So... No matter what your size or number of brands, we hope you enjoy this issue - and learn something along the way. You may just discover a thing or two to help you build your own organization - or find a tip on how to live your life more in balance as you go. We know multiunit franchising is not for everybody. For those of you who thrive in this complex, challenging environment, here's wishing you - our customer! - a prosperous year.

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