PIU Management, Nation's Largest Inflatable Party Franchise, Names New CEO, Starts `New Era'
Kahala Corp's Former COO Lee Knowlton to Take Pump It Up & BounceU Brands to New Levels
June 29, 2009 // Franchising.com // Tempe, AZ, – Staying true to his "get it done, generate results" leadership style, PIU Management's newly appointed President & CEO, Lee Knowlton, has already decided the top item on his proverbial "to-do" list: Increase store sales.
"In a franchise system, when sales are growing and profits are up, everything else falls into place," says Knowlton, the former Chief Operating Officer for Kahala Corp., who oversaw operations for the company's 12 brands and 3,750+ stores.
Calling it a giant step forward in the franchise organization's evolution, PIU Management, LLC, the parent company of Pump It Up and BounceU franchise brands with a total of 220 locations nationwide, appointed Knowlton as its new President and CEO, effective immediately. Knowlton, with more than 18 years of leadership experience in all areas of operations management, oversaw all Domestic and International Operations for Kahala Corp's brands, including Cold Stone Creamery, Blimpie, Taco Time, Samurai Sam's, Surf City Squeeze and Great Steak and Potato.
He also led a Merger Integration Team that brought together Kahala Corp. and Cold Stone Creamery. The experience in working with merging brands will bode well at PIU Management: In July 2008, Pump It Up merged with BounceU to become the single largest multi-brand franchisor in the children's birthday party segment, with combined system-wide revenues projected to top $100 million in 2009.
In addition to generating results for the stakeholders and franchisees of the multi-brand private party chain, Knowlton says the positive reviews that will count the most will be from the more than 10 million children a year who count on Pump It Up and BounceU to provide the ultimate, private party experience – every single time.
"A consistently positive customer experience is the key to the sales growth and success of any consumer business," he said, noting parallels between the food service and entertainment franchise brands he grew throughout his career and his new role at PIU Management, LLC. "At Pump It Up and BounceU, everything we do as a management team will be centered on helping our Franchisees offer customizable, compelling, value-oriented offers. We will focus on providing the proper support to our Franchisees, so they can create positive memories for our guests to ensure they return, thus, increasing sales."
Both Pump It Up and BounceU were created as fun, safe, clean places to hold private parties for birthdays, team, school and other events for toddlers to adults. Trained staff provides guests with supervision, food and beverage set-up, and clean-up services for all parties, which should be booked in advance.
At PIU Management, Knowlton will develop new programs, oversee operations and secure high-level partnerships for the Pump It Up and BounceU brands. He will build on the successes of outgoing CEO Gordon Keil, who was hired in 2006 to transition the company from entrepreneurial to professional management following its acquisition by Tregaron Capital Company LLC, a private investment company. Keil will remain a stakeholder and sit on the company's Board of Advisors.
"Lee has a track record of achieving operational excellence for some of the country's best-known franchise brands," said JR Matthews, Managing Director at Tregaron Capital. "He's more than well equipped to lead Pump It Up and BounceU into the future. Our stakeholders, including the corporate staff, our franchise owners and shareholders, will benefit significantly from his expertise."
About PIU Management, LLC
PIU Management is the parent company of PIU Holdings, LLC and BU Holdings, LLC. Both Pump It Up and BounceU, the nation's leaders in the indoor, inflatable party segment, were created as fun, safe, clean places for children and adults to enjoy. Private parties for birthdays, team, school events, etc. are available to everyone from toddlers to adults and should be reserved in advance. Trained staff provides guests with supervision, food and beverage set-up, and clean-up services, to ensure everyone has fun.