Franchisees work hard, provide jobs, help their communities, and inspire countless others to follow in the footsteps of their well-earned success. That's why we recognize the best of them each year with our Most Valuable Performer (MVP) Awards. Ten qualifying franchisees were chosen from a worthy group of their peers and honored at this year's Multi-Unit Franchising Conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Choosing MVPs is a lengthy, arduous process--also incredibly rewarding as we learn more about the lives and achievements of the many candidates. To qualify, franchisees must have at least five operating units and have been in a franchise system for a minimum of two years. This year's winners are power players, innovators, and creative thinkers with big hearts who genuinely care for both their employees and their communities and are working to make the world a better place.
During the conference, before a general session filled with hundreds of their peers, each MVP took the stage to receive a plaque commemorating their achievements. The presentation was sponsored by Church's Chicken. Congratulations to these franchise operators who exemplify the best of what franchising has to offer.
Ali Butt is president of AR Group of Restaurants, which operates 25 Popeyes locations in 5 states. The Pakistani-born franchisee and his wife Arian Rahmani are a classic example of the American Dream. He recalls working 18 to 20 hours a day in the beginning and is proud to have achieved success and provided opportunity for his employees. His growth plan for the next decade is to add more than 100 locations.
Adam Saxton is chief business officer and co-owner of The Saxton Group, founded by his father Kelly Saxton. The company operates 67 McAlister's Delis, with another 10 in the pipeline. This family-run business has always been active in its communities and hosts weekly fundraisers at all its locations. Last December, when a tornado struck a Dallas suburb near one of their stores, the manager provided free meals and shelter to first responders.
Fred Howard is principal of Fresno-based F&M Rally's, which operates 11 Rally's locations. The military veteran, who opened his first Rally's in 1992, was recognized for outstanding performance and leadership. He previously was named Rally's Franchisee of the Year three times. (Editor's note: Howard was unavailable for a profile.)
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A unique event because it is highly influenced by its advisory board, consisting of the very best multi-unit franchisees. The board works diligently to ensure that the conference delivers on its promise of being the best platform for franchisees to learn how to grow their businesses.