Robert Thomas

Tips from the Top

Cathy Brown graduated from college as a mechanical engineer and spent time working with a government contractor to create guidance systems for cruise missiles. At one point she was also a high-school math teacher.

She eventually landed in the quick-service industry, and in 2009, Brown was tasked with building out the San Diego region for Jersey Mike’s Subs. Even though the brand was new to the area, Brown quickly transformed the market and now oversees 17 stores, including five of her own units and another seven set to open by the end of August.

Lessons in Longevity

Paul Hironimus turned 80 years old in January. Like so many other franchisees, Hironimus, a Long Beach City College graduate, began his professional career outside the quick-service industry, serving as a draftsman in Los Angeles.

Nine years after graduating, in the early ’60s, Hironimus took an interest in Wienerschnitzel, which had just opened shop. And since 1965, he has maintained a successful portfolio of franchised units.

What You Can Learn from Casual Dining

David Blackburn has been in the foodservice business his entire adult life. Since 1979, the McAlister’s Deli franchisee has cataloged more than 25 years of experience in the casual-dining sector, spending 16 of those as regional vice president of operations at O’Charley’s.

Blackburn now owns and operates 23 McAlister’s Deli units across Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Breaking Out in Captivity

January marked Rick Glitchen’s 20th year in the coffee business. Previously a lawyer, Glitchen started off in the quick-service industry with his brother, opening his own street-side café location in 1993. The duo ran their own units for more than two years before signing on with Seattle’s Best Coffee in 1996 and converting their existing locations to Seattle’s Best stores.

Build Your Buzz Overseas

Takafumi Kawasaki opened his first Wetzel’s Pretzels unit in April 2012. Within two months, the fast-paced pretzel concept inside Tokyo’s Ario Kameari Mall became the brand’s No. 1 store. Now with four units in Tokyo, one in Hiroshima, and another in Kyoto, Kawasaki plans to open 100 Wetzel’s Pretzels units across Japan by the end of 2018.

Kawasaki is no stranger to running successful businesses; he runs three additional companies, including an eco-friendly business-maintenance organization and a successful chain of laundry franchises called Laundry Box.

Be Your Own Boss

Daniel Kurniawan started as a cashier with Arby’s in 1991, and remains with the brand today. He opened three Arby’s units in his home country of Indonesia—located in Surabaya City and Bali Island—in early 2000. Kurniawan now operates Arby’s units in Maryland and attributes much of his success to his location inside Baltimore/Washington International Airport (bwi), which brought in $2.5 million in revenue last year.

Manage Like a Marine

Sean Falk joined the United States Marine Corps in 1989. After time as an infantry officer, on recruiting duty, and in the Reserves—time that took him to Desert Storm and Bosnia, among other operations—Falk moved to serving in a different fashion when he opened his first Mrs. Fields Cookies unit in Monroe, Michigan, in 1998. Since then, he’s become an operator with 12 brands, including Great American Cookies, Pretzelmaker, and Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Rags to Riches

After working for more than 12 years in multiple departments of the Smoothie King corporate office, Rose Kuhnau made her franchising debut in 2000, purchasing her first Smoothie King unit in New Orleans.

Today, Kuhnau owns four units in the Big Easy’s metropolitan area, helping to grow a brand that was started by her father. She was recently named one of the “Most Improved Franchisees” after transforming one unit and increasing sales by $250,000 in its first year.

Kuhnau offers advice on how to transform a down-on-its-luck unit into one of the system’s highest performers.

It Takes Two in Franchising

For more than 33 years, franchisees Ken Gray and Larry Erdman have been successful business partners in the quick-serve industry. Having grown up together and attended the same high school and college, Gray and Erdman became master franchisees with Subway in 1979, a venture that spanned more than 25 years. The duo has since seen lasting success with Philly’s Best and continues to maintain an effective partnership in a constantly changing market.

Gray and Erdman explain how basic communication and idea sharing can create a smooth franchise relationship and successful business.

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