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Success Stories

Feature Story:

All-Around High Achiever »

By Debbie Selinsky

Measuring success by how many people he helps reach their goals

In a time when many business executives are looking at what to cut because of rising payroll and healthcare costs, Michael Kulp, president and CEO of KBP Foods, a $250 million restaurant company with units in nine states, is taking an "inverse" approach.
"We're using our growth as a vehicle to handle costs rather than shrinking the business down," says the 38-year-old Colorado native. "We're making sure that our growth and cash flow outpace the costs of healthcare and payroll." This approach illustrates what Kulp finds most rewarding about his job, he says. "Our mission is to develop our people personally, professionally, and financially."
With that goal in mind, KBP Foods, which includes nearly 300 KFCs, Taco Bells, and Long John Silver's, took another major step...

Feature Story:

The Fundamental Approach: Charles Smithgall Grows His Aaron's Empire By Keeping It Simple »

By Kerry Pipes

Charles Smithgall has a system. He operates with a simple business plan and model that focuses on executing fundamentals and getting results. He's refined the process over the past 18 years he has been an Aaron's franchisee. "This is my fifth career, but my first in franchising," says the 71-year-old. "It's a fantastic business model because it allows me to focus on operations and execute. Everything else has already been worked out."
And working out it is for Smithgall. Back in 2008 his SEI/Aaron's company had 61 locations in 7 states. Today, he has 105 locations in 10 states. And though he's preparing to hand over the reins to his son, Chas, in January 2015, Smithgall is not slowing down--in fact, he's stepping on the accelerator.
"We're right in the middle of a 10-year goal to grow to 200 stores, $250 million in net revenue annually, $20 million in net profit annually, and to create 25 millionaires within our system," he says...

Feature Story:

Franchising All-Pro: Former NFL Tackle Parlays His Winning Ways In Franchising »

By Debbie Selinsky

If you ask retired NFL defensive tackle Don Davey to list the qualities needed to succeed in the NFL or in franchising, his list is the same: competitiveness, tenacity, discipline, coachability, and focus.
Those same qualities worked well for him in the NFL, where he played defensive tackle for 10 years, starting with the Green Bay Packers and then moving to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he led the young team to a berth in the AFC Championship Game in just its second year of existence.
The same qualities he displayed in the NFL have contributed to his success today as the operator of Firehouse Subs restaurants in Florida and as the brand's area developer for Wisconsin. And that success has not gone unnoticed: the IFA named Davey its 2013 Franchisee of the Year...

Feature Story:

Mega Movers: Six Multi-Unit Operators Who Exemplify Franchisee Success »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Not all entrepreneurs have the drive, initiative, and persistence to make it to the top. It takes a savvy operator who can evaluate risk and is not afraid to take it. It also means choosing great brands, assembling a talented team, and attracting raving fan customers to make it all work. Only a handful of operators can pull it off. We found six who did.
For our annual Mega 99 edition, we search out operators with unique stories who have achieved “mega” status. Each has a personal tale to tell, full of hopes and dreams, wins and losses, painful setbacks and triumphant successes. They are textbook examples of all that is good in the world of franchising.

Don Daveyspent a decade in the NFL as a defensive tackle before turning to franchising as a second career...

Feature Story:

True Perspective: Adversity Brought Focus And Balance To Charles Loflin »

By Kerry Pipes

Cancer was a wakeup call for Charles Loflin. He was a successful businessman in 2009 going from one accomplishment to the next. Then his wife discovered she had cancer and it quickly brought life into perspective.
"That was a real sobering wake-up call for me," says the 45-year-old multi-unit franchisee today, who quickly realized there was more to life than operating a successful business.
Together the Loflins faced the cancer, beat it, and his wife is now a cancer-free survivor. But that wasn't the only outcome of this life-changing event. Loflin had just opened two very successful Einstein Bros. stores and had five more to go in his agreement. He sold those stores back to the company, refocused exclusively on Wingstop, and began spending more time and energy enjoying his wife and two children...

Feature Story:

Keeping It Simple--Big Time! »

By Kerry Pipes

Charles Smithgall sets ambitious goals for his Aaron's empire
Keeping the business model simple has paid off handsomely for Charles Smithgall over the past 18 years he has been an Aaron's franchisee. "This is my fifth career, but my first in franchising," says the 71-year-old. "It's a fantastic business model because it allows me to focus on operations and execute. Everything else has already been worked out."
And working out it is for Smithgall. When we last spoke with him (MUF 2008, Q4), his SEI/Aaron's company had 61 locations in 7 states. Today, he has 105 locations in 10 states. And though he's preparing to hand over the reins to his son, Chas, in January 2015, Smithgall is not slowing down--in fact, he's stepping on the accelerator...

Feature Story:

All About Systems: Checks, Balances, Success For Charles Haney »

By Debbie Selinsky

There's a sign on the wall in Charles Haney's Burger 21 restaurant in Voorhees, N.J., that he believes lists all the best ways to succeed. One, he says, defines who he is: "B-different."
"When I was thinking about franchising, I'd looked at several systems, but when I went into a Melting Pot restaurant in California, everything--the food and non-food features--felt right. It was different from anything else out there. It spoke to me," he says. "When I went down to see the franchisor in Florida, that felt right too, because we shared the same passion and enthusiasm for the brand."
In 2007, Haney, a Boston native who sold his RainSoft water treatment company in Rhode Island after 10 years, opened a Melting Pot fondue restaurant in Atlantic City--and, along with his wife Wendy and their children, moved to New Jersey, her home state...

Feature Story:

Got What It Takes? »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Get in the running for the 2014 Multi-Unit Franchisee MVP Awards
Great multi-unit franchisees deserve to be recognized. That’s exactly why Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine created the annual MVP Awards. If you think you have what it takes – or you know a franchisee who does – nominate them for the MVP Award.
We want to hear about the great stories and recognize the best at our annual Multi-Unit Franchisee Conference, April 23–25 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine is proud to honor multi-unit franchisee excellence once again with our annual Most Valuable Performer (MVP) Awards. We are looking for the best and brightest and most inspiring multi-unit franchisees – the power operators, the innovators, the creative thinkers who have demonstrated outstanding performance in growing both their organization and their brands...

Feature Story:

Submit Your Nominees For The 2014 Multi-Unit Franchisee MVP Awards! »

By Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine

Do you have an outstanding multi-unit franchisee deserving of recognition? Do you have several? We want to hear about them - and recognize them at our annual Multi-Unit Franchisee Conference, April 23-25 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine is proud to honor multi-unit franchisee excellence once again with our annual Most Valuable Performer (MVP) Awards. We are looking for the best and brightest and most inspiring multi-unit franchisees - the power operators, the innovators, the creative thinkers who have demonstrated outstanding performance in growing both their organization and their brands.

Nominations are now open for the 2014 MVP Awards, the only awards program that recognizes the power of multi-unit franchisee performance across eight concept categories:

Feature Story:

B-Different!: Building Success By Trusting His Gut »

By Debbie Selinsky

One of Charles Haney's favorite things about his new Burger 21 restaurant in Voorhees, N.J., is a wall sign that he believes lists all the best ways to succeed. One, he says, defines who he is: "B-different."
"When I was thinking about franchising, I'd looked at several systems, but when I went into a Melting Pot restaurant in California, everything--the food and non-food features--felt right. It was different from anything else out there. It spoke to me," he says. "When I went down to see the franchisor in Florida, that felt right too, because we shared the same passion and enthusiasm for the brand."
In 2007, Haney, a Boston native who sold his RainSoft water treatment company in Rhode Island after 10 years, opened a Melting Pot fondue restaurant in Atlantic City--and, along with his wife Wendy and their children, moved to New Jersey, her home state...

Feature Story:

Tough Times: Dunkin' Franchisee Survives Business Startup During Economic Low »

By Debbie Selinsky

Talk about starting a business during the worst of times. Jason Duffy knows just what that's like.
After all, as he says, "That's all I've known as a franchisee, since I opened my first Dunkin' Donuts store in Phoenix on Aug. 15, 2008 during the worst economic times in 50 or 60 years." But the 38-year-old made it through and is still going strong.
Having survived his baptism by fire and come out ahead, Duffy, recently named one of the "40 Under 40" to watch by the Phoenix Business Journal, now has 51 Dunkin' Donuts stores in four western states, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and California.
His path to franchising began with a fateful meeting nearly 20 years ago with Jon Luther, who would later become president, CEO, and chair of Dunkin' Donuts...

Feature Story:

Air Force Veterans Take Off »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Two retired vets to bring Interim HealthCare to Salt Lake City

Two former Air Force vets will soon be taking flight by opening an Interim HealthCare in Salt Lake City. Michael Hawkins and Michael Eliason are the recipients of the waived franchise fee that Interim HealthCare announced in 2013 as a special incentive and support for military personnel. The two plan to begin offering personal care and support services next month and expand to skilled nursing care within the first year.
"When we announced the waived franchise fee for a qualifying military veteran in May, we couldn't have hoped to find a team as well matched to our core values as Michael and Eli," says Kathleen Gilmartin, president and CEO of Interim HealthCare...

Feature Story:

Survive And Thrive: Adversity Teaches Its Own Lessons »

By Kerry Pipes

In 2009, Charles Loflin's life was in high gear and he was racking up one success after another. Then his wife got cancer.
"That was a real sobering wake-up call for me," says the 45-year-old multi-unit franchisee today, who quickly realized there was more to life than operating a successful business.
Together the Loflins faced the cancer, beat it, and his wife is now a cancer-free survivor. But that wasn't the only outcome of this life-changing event. Loflin had just opened two very successful Einstein Bros. stores and had five more to go in his agreement. He sold those stores back to the company, refocused exclusively on Wingstop, and began spending more time and energy enjoying his wife and two children.
"I'm a very driven person...

Feature Story:

Lemons To Lemonade: Eric Holm Squeezes Out A Great Business Success Story »

By Debbie Selinsky

Thirty Golden Corral restaurants, $155 million in sales annually, and providing jobs for more than 3,000 people would most certainly qualify as a success story for Eric Holm.
But when you ask the Winter Park, Fla., resident about his life and career, he's just as likely to tell you about his two bankruptcies, or the time his independent restaurant fell into a sinkhole, as he is to tell you that he is the most awarded franchisee in Golden Corral history.
"I've been broke two times in my life and I didn't enjoy either one of them," he says. "But I didn't hang out and have a pity party. I got out and went to work and tried different things to be successful. I guess you could say I actually 'failed forward.'"
So, Holm, who has been Golden Corral's Franchisee of the Year eight times and the highest-volume operator in the system for the past 15 years, urges restaurateurs and would-be franchisees to understand that failure is a learning tool...

Feature Story:

Going Retro: NFL Quarterback Signs Deal To Open Multiple Retro Fitness Clubs »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

For NFL Quarterback David Garrard, there's no such thing as "retirement." His short break from the NY Jets, starting in May and ending in October, proves that he's not good at sitting back and doing nothing. Along with his football training, he has been working with business advisors to find his next big off-the-field endeavor."But it had to be the right opportunity," says the 35-year-old Garrard, best known for his 2007-2010 stint as starting quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him as a fourth round pick in 2002 directly following his graduation from East Carolina University.
That ideal opportunity turned out to be Retro Fitness, a rapidly growing U.S. fitness chain known for providing its members with all the valuable amenities of a high-end gym, minus the hefty price tag...

Feature Story:

Compassionate Leader: Domino's Franchisee Dominates With A Kind And Gentle Hand »

By Debbie Selinsky

Mary Lynne Carraway's 74 Domino's Pizza restaurants may dominate the Washington, D.C., market, but she runs her 1,800-employee business, Domino's Pizza Team Washington, with a kind and gentle approach to success.
For example, the mother of four--who stepped into the company's leadership position after the death of her husband David from brain cancer--was the first to comfort the family members of two employees who were shot on the job and to assure nervous employees that all possible safety measures were being taken to ensure their well-being.
"Since I've been doing this job, there have been deep, hard places I've had to go. When someone gets hurt, it's crushing," she says. "You go on, but your heart never stops feeling the sadness for the others going through such difficult things...

Feature Story:

Gentle Giant: Mary Lynne Carraway's Domino's Operation Rules With Compassion »

By Debbie Selinsky

Mary Lynn Carraway is a successful Domino's franchisee with 74 locations in the Washington, D.C., area. But she may be even more well-known for the way she treats her 1,800 employees - with a kind and nurturing approach. It's a formula that spells success anyway you looks at it.
For example, the mother of four--who stepped into the company's leadership position after the death of her husband David from brain cancer--was the first to comfort the family members of two employees who were shot on the job and to assure nervous employees that all possible safety measures were being taken to ensure their well-being.
"Since I've been doing this job, there have been deep, hard places I've had to go. When someone gets hurt, it's crushing," she says...

Feature Story:

Sooner Expansion: Zaxby's Franchisees Moving Into Oklahoma »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Two Zaxby's franchisee partners with ties to the brand's corporate office are growing again.
Veteran ZFI multi-unit franchisees Ben Williams Sr. and Bill McGeary, joined by Ben Williams Jr., signed a deal this fall that gives them exclusive rights to northeast Oklahoma, including the DMA of Tulsa. This deal is the second new state and multi-unit deal in the past 60 days for Zaxby's, the Athens, Ga.-based, fast-casual restaurant brand.
Williams Sr. and McGeary currently own and operate Zaxby's stores in Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. Williams' son, Bill Jr., will be a new partner in the Oklahoma deal. Plans call for the three Oklahoma stores to open within the next 18 months and additional stores are slated.
Williams Sr...

Feature Story:

Baptism By Fire: Dunkin's West Pioneer Learns To Thrive Despite The Economy »

By Debbie Selinsky

Multi-unit franchisee Jason Duffy may only be 38 years old, but he could write a book about being successful in business during tough economic times. After all, "that's all I've known as a franchisee, since I opened my first Dunkin' Donuts store in Phoenix on Aug. 15, 2008, during the worst economic times in 60 or 70 years," he says.
Having survived his baptism by fire and come out ahead, Duffy, recently named one of the 40 Under 40 to watch by the Phoenix Business Journal, now has 51 Dunkin' Donuts stores in four western states.
His path to franchising began with a fateful meeting nearly 20 years ago with John Luther, who would later become president, CEO and chair of Dunkin' Donuts. A 19-year-old Duffy, who was working his way through college back east in Amherst, started a gutter-cleaning business...

Feature Story:

Against The Odds: Steve Baliva Helped His Community Through Hurricane Sandy »

By Debbie Selinsky

Steve Baliva knew Hurricane Sandy was on its way and headed for the New Jersey coast. So he huddled with team members from his area T.G.I. Friday's restaurants to prepare for what many forecasted to be the storm of the century.
"We knew it was coming and thought that we had five restaurants in the path of it," says the Tom's River, N.J., resident. "Turns out we had seven--five in Jersey and two on the border of the Pennsylvania side. We were laying up plans to close down on Sunday, Oct. 29, since we knew we'd lose power."
Baliva, T.G.I. Friday's 2011 Franchisee of the Year and vice president of restaurant operations for Metz Culinary Management, lives within 10 minutes of several of the restaurants. So on Tuesday he headed out to check on things...



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