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Feature Story:

Let's Ride!: Navy Vet And EagleRider Franchisee Rolls On »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Jay Staggs is sailing high these days with his EagleRider motorcycle rental franchise in Washington, DC. The former Navy submariner has faced his share of challenges over the last five years he's been in business but his hard work, determination, and military background have seen him through.
Staggs served in the US Navy from 1983 until 1989 receiving two years of training in electronics and serving seven tours on SSBN class submarines. This military training and experience helped launch his carrier in management, electronics, and software development. Following his time in the military, he worked for NASA and several software companies before transitioning into the financial services field where he rose to the level of vice president of information technology...

Feature Story:

Engineering Value: From Engineering To Burger King And Beyond »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Just a couple of years ago Tom McDonald was a Burger King franchisee worried about the brand's need to keep up with the times. But he felt like no one was listening to his concerns. Then in 2010, global investment firm 3G Capital acquired the brand and the new management was interested in what he and others had to say.
McDonald had been a franchisee since 1986 and was among a select group of executives, franchisees, and suppliers assembled to evaluate every facet of Burger King's fare, which ultimately led to the rollout of a slew of new products in 2012 as part of a multi-faceted strategy to reimage the chain.
"I have always been an advocate of giving good value," says McDonald, who operates 35 restaurants, and recently completed a six-year stint on the national Burger King Marketing Advisory Council...

Feature Story:

Brothers In Arms: Two Brothers Make The Switch From Military To Franchising Operations »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Richard Martinez and his brother George served together during the first Gulf War. Now the two are serving together in a different kind of endeavor - franchising. The two brothers are busy putting the finishing touches on their new Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen location in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Richard Martinez served in the US Air force from 1983 to 1989 where he was stationed in the US as well as overseas in Korea. George served in the US Marines from 1988 through 1994. He was in the first Gulf War with the 2nd Marines.
The two vets have undergone a smooth process in preparing to open their business. They received a Small Business Administration bank loan and jointly invested their own money in order to open their franchise.
"If this Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen does well, then we will open up several more franchises in Oklahoma," says Richard...

Feature Story:

Tuned For Growth: Former Electrical Engineer Now Oversees 93 Precision Tunes »

By Kerry Pipes

David Grimaud grew up in the car repair business. His father, Joe, operated a Midas shop in Alexandria, La., where David spent many days working as a teenager. "It really taught me a lot about budgeting and business management," says the 52-year old today. Grimaud, however, had a passion for electronics that led him to earn a degree in electrical engineering from LSU and begin a career in Dallas in the mid-1980s.
Grimaud soon realized that he liked "being the boss" and that he wanted to operate a business of his own. In 1987, his father, who was overseeing 37 Precision Tune Auto Care franchises in South Carolina, welcomed his son into the family business with open arms and a few new responsibilities--like expanding the territory and growing the number of units...

Feature Story:

Game Time: Don Copus Is Part Of The "team" At His Hungry Howie's Stores »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Don Copus likes to roll up his sleeves and get in the game with his employees, literally. At least a half dozen times a year, he gathers his Hungry Howie's employees for a corporate outing where you may find the Berkley, Mich.-based franchisee batting for one softball team, pitching for the other, or manning the grill. No matter how you slice it, Copus, named 2012 Hungry Howie's Franchisee of the Year, is an employees' employer.
"I want them to know that I am approachable," says Copus. "I want them to realize that I'm no different from them. I started out with less than most of them, but worked hard to get where I am today. I want them to know that I'm willing to mentor them."
A native of Indianapolis, Copus, who operates 25 Hungry Howie's in Michigan, Indiana, and Utah, grew up in a family of eight in a 900-square foot home, made cozier by parents who welcomed any neighborhood child in need of a meal or bed...

Feature Story:

Married With Franchises: Couple Goes From Military Life To Franchising Life »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Kevin and Laurel Wilkerson are Marco's Pizza franchisees in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. They like to do things together. Before starting their careers in franchising they were both in the US Army.
Kevin spent 24 years as an Army infantry officer before retiring in 2005 as a full colonel. Laurel served on active duty with the Army as an attorney for over 20 years before retiring in 2008. The couple has seven advanced degrees between them including a law degree and a Harvard masters.
Following his military career, Kevin worked for Lockheed Martin as a consultant and he and Lauren started a mergers and acquisition firm to help small business owners buy and sell businesses. When he learned of the opportunities with Marco's Pizza he decided to try out his entrepreneurial skills...

Feature Story:

Growth Overdrive: Tony Lutfi Exceeds His Own Goals In Just Three Years »

By Kerry Pipes

In 2009 we profiled Tony Lutfi and asked him our routine question about where he'd like to be in five years. At the time he had 52 units and told us he would like to be at 100. Goal achieved... and then some! Today his MarLu Investment Group operates 134 franchise units including Arby's, Church's Chicken, Jack in the Box, Little Caesars, Sizzler, Sears Appliance Showrooms, and Sears Hardware & Appliance.
"We accomplished that goal in three years," he says today, "in part because we keep the same focus on culture that has kept us in business and away from trouble." Lutfi's culture promotes teamwork and cross-functionality with a sense of ownership. His managers treat the business as if they own it and, he says, that has been the driving factor behind their cost controls and the real engine for their growth...

Feature Story:

Precision Operator: David Grimaud Transitions From Engineer To Multi-Unit Franchisee »

By Kerry Pipes

David Grimaud's father, Joe, operated a Midas shop in Alexandria, La., where David spent many days working as a teenager. "It really taught me a lot about budgeting and business management," says the 52-year old today. Grimaud, however, had a passion for electronics that led him to earn a degree in electrical engineering from LSU and begin a career in Dallas in the mid-1980s.
Grimaud soon realized that he liked "being the boss" and that he wanted to operate a business of his own. In 1987, his father, who was overseeing 37 Precision Tune Auto Care franchises in South Carolina, welcomed his son into the family business with open arms and a few new responsibilities--like expanding the territory and growing the number of units.
Today, Grimaud is president of Precision Tune's largest area developer, Grimaud Enterprises Inc...

Feature Story:

Fully Charged: Air Force Veteran Angel Cartagena Plugs In A Batteries Plus »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Angel Cartagena was a cable TV project manager traveling between New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico and working more than 70 hours every week. He was looking for a change when he discovered Batteries Plus.
He thought it was something he could make work. In 2008 he opened his first store in Union, New Jersey. After two successful years in franchising the 54-year-old Air Force veteran received an SBA veteran-approved loan to help with the expansion of the store.
Like many before him he was able to capitalize on his military background and skills to get his franchise business going.
Cartagena served as security policeman in the Air Force for 24 years, from 1977-2001. While in the Air Force he served in Germany as a general's bodyguard and an area supervisor, as an Air Force recruiter in Arkansas, and then transferred to Brooklyn, New York, and finally worked as a flight chief in New Jersey...

Feature Story:

Cruise Control: Michael Decker Succeeds With Expedia CruiseShipCenters  »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Michael Decker now operates an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Orlando, Florida, but he says it was his military experience that provided the crucial background he needed to become a successful franchisee.
Decker served in the US Army in Germany and Tacoma, Washington between 1975 and 1979 and then two years of inactive required duty from 1979 to 1981. Prior to becoming a franchise owner, he attended Orlando College, now Everest College and UCF, graduating with a B. S. in Business Management/Marketing. From here he began his career in the travel industry in 1996 and worked at Premier Vacations as a travel and receptive center sales manager. He went on to work with several other vacation and cruise lines until opening his own Expedia CruiseShipCenters business...

Feature Story:

'Keep Moving': Michael Knobelock Is Always On The Grow »

By Kerry Pipes

The 14-year-old Michael Knobelock was not just selling newspaper subscriptions in his native Houston but he was racking up awards as top salesman, earning between $400 and $500 a week in the 1970s. He was a born salesman.
After high school he sold ads for the Yellow Pages where he was again a successful bell-ringer. But the real twist of fate in Knobelock's sales life came when a friend approached him about purchasing a convenience store.
"My parents loaned me $10,000 to purchase a closed-down convenience store and reopen it," says the 50-year-old Knobelock. It turned out to be a life-changing move. For the next six years he made the store more profitable than it had ever been, and in the process realized that he knew how to run a business...

Feature Story:

Beyond The Brand: 30 Years Of Building A Successful Franchisee Company »

By Helen Bond

As founder and executive chairman of The Saxton Group in Dallas, Kelly Saxton has taken a family approach to building a business that has opened and operated more than 100 restaurants in his 30-year career. Whether talking about his two sons, Adam and Matthew, who are vice presidents at the company, his 1,000-plus employees, or the customers and markets the franchise and development company serves, Saxton understands the value and power of connections.
The largest franchisee of McAlister's Deli, The Saxton Group operates 50 of the fast casual restaurants in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and four Pinkberry frozen dessert locations in the Dallas area. Recognized by Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business as one of the top Dallas companies for dynamic growth, the company has earned McAlister's Deli Franchisee of the Year and Developer of the Year awards numerous times...

Feature Story:

He's #1!: Passion Fuels Domino's Largest, Most Innovative Franchisee »

By Kerry Pipes

To Glenn Mueller, franchising at its core is a partnership. And as the largest single franchisee in the Domino's Pizza system at 135 units, he's a great partner to have.
When we last visited with Mueller in late 2010, he told us how he and his team had not only weathered the massive Hurricane Katrina--which affected many of his Gulf Coast Domino's stores--but how he had reopened stores within days to take care of his team members and the people in the communities they served.
Beyond his compassion and relentless drive, it's difficult to write about Mueller without acknowledging his unending pursuit of innovation. For example, those insulated bags that keep your pizza steaming hot while it makes its way to your house? Courtesy of Mueller and his team...

Feature Story:

Making Business Personal: Three Personal Stories, Inspiration, And Franchising »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

The New Year has just arrived and now is the time many revaluate life and career. Most people think about their careers as an occupation but few view their careers as a vocation.
Occupation seems to lack heart and determination. True to its root meaning, an occupation is a means to an end that takes up time and energy. But a vocation suggests that one has a higher calling and their career poses as a pathway to fulfilling a dream.
The three stories below illustrate how just one life-altering experience can change a person's outlook and path. These experiences became a guiding light in choosing their careers and, perhaps, could be just the inspiration someone else might need to find a better purpose.

Feature Story:

Green Machine: Chris Rolen Moves From Army Into Weed Man Franchise »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Veterans make great franchisees. Organized, disciplined, determined - all characteristics that suit them for franchising. Chris Rolen is a great example.
Rolen spent eight years on active duty in the Army, including a 2002 deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After completing his active duty services, Rolen knew that he wanted to open his own business in addition to completing an additional eight years in the Army Reserves (currently based in Fort Collins, Co.). He turned to VetFran when he decided to open a Weed Man franchise and received a 25 percent veteran's discount. He opened Weed Man of Loveland in January 2012 and participates in a non-profit organization called Project EverGreen, whose mission is to preserve and enhance green space throughout the community...

Feature Story:

Serving Up Good Value: Tom McDonald Engineers A Life In Franchising »

By Helen Bond

When Burger King set out to revamp its menu, it made sense that Tom McDonald would have some input. McDonald, a Burger King franchisee since 1986, had long expressed concern--largely to no avail--about the fast food giant's need to keep up with the times. When global investment firm 3G Capital acquired the home of the Whopper in 2010, new management was ready to listen.
McDonald was among a select group of executives, franchisees, and suppliers assembled to evaluate every facet of Burger King's fare, which ultimately led to the rollout of a slew of new products in 2012 as part of a multi-faceted strategy to reimage the chain.
"I have always been an advocate of giving good value," says McDonald, who operates 35 restaurants, and recently completed a six-year stint on the national Burger King Marketing Advisory Council...

Feature Story:

Taking Flight: Greg Mooneyham's Not Afraid Of Risk In The Air Or On The Ground »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Taking risks is a part of life for Greg Mooneyham. He is, after all, a former Air Force fighter pilot. But his decision to venture into the world of franchising in the fitness industry during an economic downturn was a calculated move to practice what he preached.
Mooneyham, CEO of Atlanta-based JRG Fitness Operations, recently closed a deal with a private equity firm that opened the financial door for him to acquire 35 Snap Fitness facilities. The move made JRG Fitness the largest independent North American franchisee of Snap Fitness, the compact, state-of-the-art 24/7 fitness center concept based in Chanhassen, Minn.
After serving his country as a fighter pilot for more than a decade, the U.S. Air Force Academy graduate worked as an account executive with corporate giant Johnson Controls, where he learned the real estate and store management ropes from an entrepreneurial owner of a retail chain of decorative fabric stores...

Feature Story:

Hungry (Howie's) For Success: Don Copus Honored As Franchisee Of The Year »

By Helen Bond

At least six times a year, Don Copus gathers his Hungry Howie's employees for a corporate outing where you may find the Berkley, Mich.-based franchisee batting for one softball team, pitching for the other, or manning the grill. No matter how you slice it, Copus, named 2012 Hungry Howie's Franchisee of the Year, is an employees' employer.
"I want them to know that I am approachable," says Copus. "I want them to realize that I'm no different from them. I started out with less than most of them, but worked hard to get where I am today. I want them to know that I'm willing to mentor them."
A native of Indianapolis, Copus, who operates 25 Hungry Howie's in Michigan, Indiana, and Utah, grew up in a family of eight in a 900-square foot home, made cozier by parents who welcomed any neighborhood child in need of a meal or bed...

Feature Story:

Mega-Stars: Six Movers And Shakers Who Shoot For The Sky »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Franchising is big. And so are some of its franchisees. Just take a look at our "Mega 99" list (page 54) and you'll see what we mean! We've ranked the heavyweights by size, brands, number of units, and locations. These franchisees definitely know how to Go Big!
Franchising at this level is not for everyone. It takes a certain set of skills, drive, and initiative to build and operate these large organizations. The risks and rewards to the ever-growing multi-unit franchisee hinge on savvy decision-making, dedicated managers, hard-working employees, and loyal customers. Few can do it; even fewer can do it well.
And beyond the numbers are the human stories of passion, creativity, and sheer will and determination it takes to succeed at this level...

Feature Story:

Pizza For Two: Papa Murphy's Is Their Brand Of Choice! »

By Helen Bond

Pam Wolfe loves to cook. So much so that when she first began operating Papa Murphy's Take'N'Bake Pizza franchises 15 years ago you could almost always find her in the company kitchen, kneading, chopping, and shredding the fresh ingredients made daily for the pizzeria, known for its take-and-bake, made-to-order concept.
"It's a great day when you can make pizzas all day long," says Wolfe, 46. "That is the fun part." However, she adds, "Papa Murphy's is very physical. We make our own pizza dough and cookie dough and everything else at the store. It is a labor-intensive business, but sometimes people don't think about that. You can't get into Papa Murphy's and assume someone else will run them and you will make a lot of money."
Wolfe still loves to cook--at home--but these days she has left the pizza-making to others to focus on running the company with her husband Jim...



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