Industry News | June 30, 2005

This Year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award Goes to Raving Brands CEO

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Raving Brands, a leading multi-concept franchiser for the food and beverage industry, today announced that company CEO Martin Sprock has been named winner of the 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Recognized for his empowering leadership and passionate entrepreneurial vision, Sprock, 39, is the mastermind behind Raving Brands!, a portfolio brand of food and beverage concepts that includes Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Fu’s Asian House, Planet Smoothie, PJ’s Coffee, newly launched Doc Green’s Gourmet Salads, newly purchased and launched Shane’s Rib Shack, and soon-to-be launched Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken.

"I am a true believer in empowerment – through training, incentives and recognizing your people – and this award is a testament to the continuous hard work, passion and dedication the Raving Brands team puts forth on a daily basis," says Sprock. "Not only am I honored to receive this prestigious acknowledgement, but also to share it with such a wonderful group of people."

Sprock’s introduction into the food and beverage market began with the successfully launched Planet Smoothie (now 130 units) in 1995. By the age of 38, Sprock was pioneering or reinvigorating four successful concepts under the portfolio brand, Raving Brands! His concepts became not just the talk of the town, but of the nation as he expanded his homegrown concepts – Moe’s Southwest Grill and Mama Fu’s Asian House -- and breathed new life into his long lost first concept, Planet Smoothie. A decade later, his keen ability to conceptualize brands along with his innate ability to find a brand with potential has led to more than 400 stores in operation among the brands, with Sprock projecting no less than 1,000 stores in operation by the end of next year and 2,000 by 2010.

Sprock’s passion for the food business drives his desire to be involved every step of the way, from concept to rendering to, in the case of Moe’s, "Hot Concept of the Year." Yet, as engaged as he is in the business of building fun, healthier brands, Sprock entrusts his management team. Believing that the day’s successes should be shouldered by many, rather than few, he has assembled a smart mix of food, marketing, operations, and financial individuals, all inspired by his refreshingly straightforward entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to his hands-on/hands-off management approach, Sprock’s innovative franchising model is a testament to his highly personable drive for success –- not only for himself or his management team –- but also for each and every franchisee. Franchisees purchase his concepts for one-third to one-half of what it would cost to enter the competition. Additionally, the portfolio offers franchisees more flexibility in real estate purchasing, because they have the option of acquiring larger, more affordable real estate that can house multiple brands, as opposed to the limited real estate that one brand affords.

Moreover, in lieu of the more traditional business model within the industry in which large restaurant groups want increased revenue from their own stores with the franchise revenue as secondary income, Sprock’s approach is to own one store per concept and franchise the rest. He firmly believes this keeps his team honest around the concept – what works, what needs improvement – all without the conflict or distraction of owning multiple stores and competing with franchisees for real estate, customers, and mindshare.

As the quintessential independent thinker who is always looking for something that is being under-delivered or not done quite as well as it could be, Sprock now has his sights set beyond food and beverage concepts. Bolstered by his Entrepreneur of the Year acknowledgement, he is ready to dive into an area that is different, yet complementary, to his existing portfolio in his unwavering pursuit of building one of the country’s more innovative companies.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic and growing businesses. The program honors entrepreneurs through regional, national, and global award programs in more than 100 cities and 35 countries. Selected from 17 finalist companies by an independent panel of judges composed of local business and academic and community leaders, Sprock is now eligible for consideration in several national categories as well as the overall national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award. National winners will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on Nov. 19, 2005.