December 03, 2014 // Franchising.com // PITTSBURGH – Responsibility at Bruster's Real Ice Cream extends beyond serving premium, hand-made frozen treats to fulfilling its long-time creed of "Mentoring Tomorrow's Leaders Today." The chain recently held its first mentoring contest, seeking individuals making a difference in the lives of young people. The first recipients were from Florida, North Carolina and Kentucky. "Bruster's is in the people business," said Jim Sahene, CEO. "Each year, we have an opportunity to teach thousands of young people skills they may not be learning elsewhere, skills they are going to need as tomorrow's leaders." Nearly 30 videos identifying a franchise owner, supervisor or general manager who changed – or is changing – their lives were submitted. The Bruster's Franchise Advisory Board selected five entries.
Blake Struss of Jacksonville, Florida, nominated owner/mentor Tom Devenny. Struss is in a local program that helps find jobs for people with developmental and acquired disabilities. Two-and-a-half years ago, Devenny created a food preparation/maintenance position for Struss that taught him work skills and ethics, and allows him to live independently. Devenny says he, too, has learned important lessons from Struss. See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45v8Fom45C4.
Brittany Kessinger, who worked at Bruster's in Monroe and Indian Trail, North Carolina, nominated owner/mentor Tom Zak. Kessinger began working at Bruster's while in high school, later becoming a general manger. She worked her way through college and is applying to medical schools with the goal of becoming a doctor. Today she is an emergency medical technician. Zak inspired Kessinger to create a dream and to chase it. "I began helping people from the other side of a window at an ice cream store to helping them with medical emergencies from the bedside of an ambulance," said Kessinger. See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbYdyZdD4j8.
Another Charlotte-area winner is Nathan Mulholland. He works for owner Lee Underwood in Mooresville. Underwood, a former technology executive with a passion for helping young people, rehired the one-time scooper as a new store manager to help him develop the skills needed for a career in management. He taught Mulholland about operating the business, as well as household finances. A 14-year cancer battle cost Mulholland his voice. He now communicates via gestures and written notes. As a mentor, Underwood tells people, "You always have options in life. You just have to figure out what they are." See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRBUQIHSN2I.
The Bowling Green, Kentucky, Bruster's produced the final two winners. Maddie Powers nominated general manager Caleb Hayes, while Johni Lecoffre recounted the role owner Stuart Kirby has played in her life. Powers said Hayes has been a role model since her first shift. She started working at Bruster's to earn money for photography equipment, but Hayes taught her that relationships and personal growth are also important benefits. See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuIoLodN2nU.
Johni Lecoffre started working at Bruster's as a newlywed college student. She nominated Kirby as her mentor. Kirby taught Lecoffre that balancing work, family and studies is an art that cannot be neglected. Lecoffre plans to be an elementary school teacher. She and her husband just built a new home two doors away from Kirby. See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp4THfO_SbA.
Winners, as well as all entrants, received cash awards.
There are nearly 200 independently owned Bruster's locations in 18 states and the nation of Guyana. Bruster's features 150 flavors of handcrafted ice cream, yogurt, Italian ice and sorbet, with at least 25 made fresh in each shop daily.
Brad Ritter Communications