Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers disclosed that, with the opening of three new restaurants last week, including a company site in Kansas City, Missouri, and two franchise locations in Jacksonville, Florida, and Caldwell, Idaho, the system has added 21 stores in the first 21 weeks of 2015. This expansion came during the same timeframe in which the company completed a remodeling and 40 percent expansion of the area it occupies in its home office building at 260 North Rock Road in Wichita. Interestingly occurring during the same timeframe, World War II veteran and the company’s co-founder and patriarch, Freddy Simon, celebrated his 90th birthday on February 24.
Additionally, Freddy’s announced the hiring of two executives. In February of this year, Bill Valentas joined the company as vice president of finance, a position previously-held by co-founder, Randy Simon, who remains as CFO. Last week, Andrew Thengvall started in newly created dual roles. His title is senior vice president of strategic growth and chief legal officer.
With nearly 20 years of experience in leadership roles in finance, tax, and operations, Bill Valentas’ cross-section of skills will allow him to assist and direct the company’s current explosive growth. Already, he is updating the company’s daily reporting system with state-of-the-art dashboard software. Most recently prior to joining Freddy’s, Valentas was chief financial officer and chief operating officer for MoJack Distributors LLC, a product sales and distribution company, in Wichita. Before that, Valentas held positions as tax manager at Grant Thornton LLP, and senior vice president and chief operating officer of Shared Services, at LS Management Inc., a restaurant management company that oversees 325 restaurants including national brands such as Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Texas Land & Cattle Steak House, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, and Del Frisco Steak House.
Andrew Thengvall brings to Freddy’s his experience as a chief counsel with INVISTA, a Koch Industries affiliate and, prior to that, Foulston Siefkin LLP. While at INVISTA, he led the corporate services team that provided internal legal support in tax, finance, real estate, procurement, and management of its global entities. Prior to that, Thengvall was a partner with Wichita-based Foulston Siefkin, where he practiced law for 10 years and assisted clients, including Freddy’s, with franchising. Additionally, he worked with clients buying and selling businesses and general commercial matters.
“Freddy’s offerings in the fast-casual restaurant world, we believe, are second to none,” says CEO Bill Simon. “But I think our guests will tell you that it’s our people who really differentiate the brand. These two talented individuals join us, as so many have over the years, at just the right time with just the right tools…in this case, to assist as we continue our growth from 150-plus stores.”
Paul Hoover, managing member of three limited liability companies currently operating six franchise Freddy’s restaurants with the rights to expand to 74, says, “We signed our first area development agreement and joined the Freddy’s family in late 2011, when there were fewer than 60 restaurants throughout the system. It’s been exciting to be a part of their progress since then, and to watch the synergy of franchisees and franchisor develop this brand in a truly American-dream fashion. Freddy’s does the right things for the right reason every day. Our guests recognize that and reward us for it with their patronage.”
“The people who make up the brand have grown remarkably to resemble a family more and more with each milestone as our numbers continue to increase,” Simon remarked recently at the company’s franchise conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. “The Freddy’s family will soon have grown to 7,000 people, with an average store employing 43 individuals. That so many of the franchisees who have stores opening currently signed their agreements a few years ago in the headwinds of record unemployment and recession makes it seem particularly magical and rewarding.”