Tell me about your background
My education is in hotel and restaurant management, however, I have three decades of international franchise experience under my belt. I most recently served as International Group President for Focus Brands, the franchisor of over 1,500 units in more than 60 countries. Also, I spent nine years as COO of Dunkin’ Brands International, overseeing more than 6,000 Dunkin’ Donuts® and Baskin-Robbins® stores in over 50 countries, and served 20 years at AFC, the parent company to Popeyes®, Church’s®, Cinnabon®, and Seattle’s Best Coffee® brands, where I was President/COO of the International Division.
How did you get into franchising?
I actually went to school for hotel and restaurant management and right out of college I was offered a job in the full service space where I was lucky enough to find success very early on. Although, at some point I felt I was missing the QSR industry where I was always fascinated by the systems, controls and how much easier it was for a franchisee to operate and succeed. So, after a good early run in full service I decided to make the move into QSR to see what it was all about. With that decision I was introduced to franchising overnight. About one year later we were in a meeting and the subject came up about a deal in Saudi Arabia that needed support that I was very interested in doing. I was the one with the lowest tenure in the organization but the only person with a passport. So, I asked my boss if I could take this opportunity and said I wanted all future international projects as well. That was the launching pad for not only QSR and franchising, but my international experiences as well.
What makes you an ideal person to grow brands abroad?
I had the opportunity get involved with international growth and business very earlier in my career and was able to help launch several brands internationally and be part of their growth. I learned early on the importance in differentiating yourself, being relevant, innovative and how to create value and experience, which may be a bit different internationally than domestically.
What’s the secret to expanding overseas successfully?
Finding the right partner in the right market and structuring the right deal which could and should be different for all brands. Also, having the ability to adapt to local conditions is critical while maintaining the integrity of the brand. However, being relevant in the local market is quite a tricky balance. It’s important to think globally while acting locally.
What are the major pitfalls to avoid when starting to franchise abroad?
Assuming that your brand will be perceived and behave as it does back home is one key pitfall. You need to be able to adjust according to your location and audience. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that replicating your brand abroad doesn’t create automatic success; it’s critical to adapt your brand to the local market conditions.
What do you see as your greatest achievements?
I think my greatest achievements include franchise partner relationships that have been built over my 35 years in doing what I do, as well as the cultural bridges built in operating both in good and bad times with a company. I guess if you needed a matrix it would be over 7,000 stores opened outside the USA with the brands I have worked with as well as some incredible innovation projects that really accelerated growth. I’ve also been part of two very successful IPOs with two companies where I spent a total of 30 years. That is another achievement I’m proud of.
Which major brands have you helped to expand?
In addition to the exciting opportunities I am creating now with Edible Arrangements, I have helped to expand Focus Brands International, Dunkin’ Brands International and AFC Enterprises, Inc. All of which had different objectives and wanted to expand into different areas of the world, allowing me to work with many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.
What does your present role involve?
Currently, I am working to expand the Edible Arrangements brand outside of North America and am seeking new partnerships throughout the world. In addition to expansion, I will work with the 10 international markets that already exist and support them in whatever they need to succeed.
What’s next for Edible Arrangements?
Edible Arrangements is looking to expand by making their products known worldwide, giving everyone the chance to share the gift of fresh fruit. Through this idea, we are planning on focusing our efforts outside of North America as we move forward. We are currently formulating our international strategic roadmap and blueprint for growth.
What else occupies your time?
I currently enjoy splitting my time off between my homes in Vegas, Atlanta and Florida.
If you had to start your working life over, what would you do differently?
I probably would have liked to work in more family time. In this business busy times are holidays and weekends, and when paired with international travel, it is a lot of time away from home and family.
What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?
I would like to be right here at Edible Arrangements driving the international business to further growth and success.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in franchising?
Look where you cannot see, listen to what is not being said, embrace what you cannot control.