Church’s Chicken today announced the hiring of several industry leaders to its executive, research and development (R&D), marketing, and quality assurance teams. These new team members bring to Church’s a wealth of experience and knowledge in their respective fields which will help guide the company’s strategy, commitment to quality, guest satisfaction, and continued growth and expansion around the world.

“We’ve recruited some of the best, most impressive and seasoned professionals in the quick-service industry who are sure to be an asset to our company, ensuring that our vision is recognized and that our growth is supported,” says Mel Deane, CEO, Church’s Chicken. “We are committed to offering the best business opportunities for our franchisees and great food and service to our guests. Adding these talented individuals to the Church’s family is allowing us to do just that.”

Effective immediately, the new team members are as follows:

Will Costello, executive vice president of supply chain, joins Church’s from International Dairy Queen where he was the vice president of purchasing. At Dairy Queen, Costello was responsible for more than 5,300 restaurants in the U.S. and several international markets. He brings extensive experience in supply chain management, distribution logistics and purchasing. Prior to Dairy Queen, Costello led the purchasing and distribution function at Dynamic Hospitality in Nashville where he was responsible for providing an uninterrupted supply of goods and services for the Black-Eyed Pea chain and more than 100 Denny’s restaurants.

Kirk Waisner, vice president of research & development/quality assurance, is responsible for new product development and menu strategy, and also oversees QA functions. He most recently served as vice president of quality, supply chain, and commercialization at Popeye’s Chicken and offers more than 20 years of experience in foodservice and R&D. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Waisner has held senior R&D positions at Kraft Foods and began his foodservice career as a chef in the fine dining segment.

Andy Bonaparte, vice president of advertising, is directing the development and production of all creative, including television commercials, radio commercials, print advertising, outdoor boards, store merchandising materials, and packaging. He has built a strong career in chain restaurant advertising, having worked at prominent New York advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and Uniworld. He joined Burger King, a former client, in 1994 and was with them for 11 years. Following his time at Burger King, Bonaparte joined AOL as vice president of advertising. He has won every major creative award in the industry, including the Cannes Lion, Effie, CLIO, and One Show Interactive. In 2008, he earned a Filmmaking Certificate at Boston University.

Malin Benicek, senior director of quality assurance, is responsible for ensuring suppliers produce safe products that consistently meet company specifications, operator requirements and customer expectations. Joining Church’s from Wayne Farms, a producer of fresh and cooked poultry where he was director of quality assurance, food safety, and regulatory affairs, Benicek has more than 15 years of experience as a leader in these areas. At Wayne Farms, he was responsible for the quality assurance and food safety functions for 13 processing facilities, and gained extensive experience as a supplier for national quick-service restaurants and casual-dining chains.

Kevin Houston, senior director of research & development, will be responsible for the development of new and improved products and platforms and brings to the position 14 years of experience in product development. Prior to joining Church’s, Houston was the senior director of product innovation at Burger King. He held various positions including director of core product innovation, director of product development – proteins, and manager of poultry and other proteins. He was also responsible for the development of Tendercrisp and Tendergrill chicken sandwiches, and BK Chicken Fries.

In 2009, Church’s was recognized as one of the Top 50 Franchises for Minorities by the National Minority Franchising Initiative for the second consecutive year. The company was also named among the Top 50 Franchises for Franchisee Satisfaction by the Franchise Business Review.

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