Paul Booth, Jr. and the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence Are Building the Next Generation of Franchising Professionals
Paul Booth, Jr. is an experienced builder.
The Ace Hardware owner-operator not only builds thriving businesses, he is helping to build the next generation of franchising professionals through the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence at the University of Louisville.
Launched in 2021, the center features the first business program of its kind at a public university to provide existing and potential franchisees with multiple levels of online education focused on the franchising model across industries. A focus on reaching underrepresented people of color and women is spotlighting franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship for new audiences.
The center is part of Yum! Brands’ global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, under which the company committed $100 million over 5 years to promote equity and inclusion, education, and entrepreneurship for employees, frontline restaurant teams, and communities around the world.
Kathy Gosser, Yum! Assistant Professor of Franchise Management Practice and Director of Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville’s College of Business, says the addition of Booth as executive-in-residence of the Kentucky-based center dovetails with the center’s mission of unlocking opportunities in the franchising industry.
“We are delighted to have him teaching in the College of Business in our undergraduate franchise management certificate,” she says. “He shares his firsthand experience working in franchising, both restaurants and retail, which provides students with an understanding of how the franchise business model works. Most importantly, he serves as a role model that inspires undergraduate students to consider a career in franchising. This is unique in that franchise education is rare in higher education offerings.”
Says Booth, “The Yum! Center is unparalleled in sharing franchising as an avenue for wealth creation and community transformation. I’m excited to see the engagement of students, and our classes are full. I wish I had had this opportunity when I was in college.”
Before becoming an Ace Hardware franchisee, Booth was a second-generation owner-operator in the McDonald’s system in Ohio. Today, president of Concentric Brands, the experience he shares with students is one of the unique features of the Yum! Center.
His parents, Paul and Cynthia Booth owned several McDonald’s franchises exposing him at a young age to the many ways that franchising can benefit families, as well as communities.
“My mother left an acclaimed career in banking to launch our family’s McDonald’s restaurants,” Booth says. “Not everyone thought that was a good idea at the time, but she saw the potential of being a franchise owner-operator.”
Booth went from crew member to owner-operator through McDonald’s Next Gen Owner Operator Program. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was intense, but it prepared me for franchising success. It covers every part of restaurant operation.”
Booth hopes his daughter, Laila Marie Booth, will consider a career in franchising one day. “It’s exciting to see her interested in the business already.”
At the University of Louisville, Yum! Center students are benefiting from Booth’s lifetime of experience and philosophy in franchising as they consider career paths in the field.
“Our program exposes them to options within franchising outside of being an owner-operator, such as being a brand manager, a financial development manager, or a supplier on the vendor side,” he says. “The center exposes them to the many careers available in franchising. It’s game-changing.”
Students also have opportunities for internships with major brands including those Yum! offers, which include such well-known names as KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. In 2022, the University of Louisville, Howard University, and Yum! Brands Launched the Yum! Franchise Accelerator, a one-of-a-kind elective for MBA students of the two universities that prepares them to be restaurant franchise owners.
“This is the heart of what we do,” says Booth, who is working to build partnerships between the Yum! Center and the Center for Black Entrepreneurship at Spelman College and Morehouse College in Atlanta. “We are starting students on a path toward careers in franchising so they can create multi-generational wealth and jobs for their communities. We are helping them build legacies.”
Well-positioned to teach, to lead, and to give back
Paul Booth is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in religious studies. He completed a master’s degree in divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, concentrating in leadership and ethics. He then earned a PhD in values-driven leadership from the College of Business at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.
He recently completed the Herndon Directors Institute, a prestigious program to train and equip diverse candidates for seats on the boards of publicly traded companies. This year, he graduated with the inaugural cohort for Empowering Community Leaders sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and Harvard University.
Booth is a recent Cincinnati Business Courier 40 Under 40 recipient and serves on several boards, including the Multi-Unit Franchise Conference, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati State School of Hospitality Management Advisory Board, and the Holocaust and Humanity Center. He received the MVP Spirit of Franchising Award from the Multi-Unit Franchise Conference.
He’s also a sixth-generation minister, founding and serving as lead pastor of Legacy Pointe Church in Cincinnati. He serves on numerous boards and enjoys giving back to the community.
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