What Inspires Duck Donuts Founder Russ DiGilio

    He saw an opportunity and he seized it.
    Duck Donuts' founder Russ DiGilio.

    Duck Donuts

    "I love the ever-changing nature of the industry, particularly with the advancement of technology," DiGilio says.

    During college, I envisioned working with children as a school psychologist. I believe life has a funny way of presenting itself; it’s full of twists and turns. I enjoy looking back and seeing how many different ways it has gone to help me end up here. After college, I started my career in the healthcare industry, which is where I began to develop my leadership skills. My entrepreneurial spirit then led me to branch out into other businesses. The road to Duck Donuts wasn’t discovered until a family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 2005. At the time, there was no place to enjoy a doughnut in the Outer Banks.

    As an entrepreneur by trade, I saw an opportunity and seized it. Once we decided on the made-to-order concept and saw the reaction from our customers, we knew we had something special that we could continue to grow and offer outside of the Outer Banks.

    I love the ever-changing nature of the industry, particularly with the advancement of technology. In terms of Duck Donuts, my favorite part is watching our team members bring happiness and smiles to children and adults with a delicious product. The most challenging part of my job is providing the right resources and tools in order to set our franchisees up for continued success. We are always looking for ways to improve our line of communication to our franchisees to ensure they are tuned in and executing our brand to the level of our expectations.

    Our dedicated team is working hard to make our brand top-of-mind for our customers in order to become a household name. We are going to continue backfilling in markets where we already have a presence with experienced business professionals, as well as continue to grow our brand domestically and internationally in new territories. Our brand will continue to evolve its look and feel as well as its product innovation. At the end of the day, our mission is to serve a warm, delicious, and made-to-order doughnut just the way our customers like it.

    What was your first job?

    I had two jobs. In the morning, I would deliver papers by bike, and I also cleaned the high school I was attending in order to pay my way through private school.

    What are your favorite items on the Duck Donuts menu?

    I love our OBX Donut Breakfast Sandwich with sausage. My favorite doughnut is lemon icing with shredded coconut and raspberry drizzle, paired with a caramel latte.

    What’s your favorite thing to eat outside of doughnuts?

    I have two, our family homemade pasta and sauce with meatballs, and also Thanksgiving-inspired meals complete with turkey and all the traditional sides.

    Who inspires you as a leader?

    Most recently I’ve come to know Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University. He has vast experience, starting as a young immigrant who came to our country with virtually nothing, and built an amazing reputation through tremendous success in both business and life.

    What’s your best piece of advice for other industry execs?

    Two words: persistence and perseverance. The quick-serve industry and franchising are not always easy; it takes persistence and perseverance to grow any company. This industry moves, and you will always be faced with challenges. 

    What are some of your interests outside of work?

    I enjoy playing golf, boating, and spending time with my family and grandkids.