20 players at the top of their game in the world of franchising. These are just a few of the many amazing people whose entrepreneurial spirit or contribution to franchising has caught the eye of the Global Franchise team
Kay Ainsley, Robert Cresant, Dina Dwyer Owens, Bill Edwards, Lane Fisher, Brad and Sherri Fishman, Jason Gehrke, Aziz Hashim, Ichiro Fujita, Bedros Keuilian, Albert Kong, Gordon Logan, Catherine Monson, Damian Paull, Tom Portesy, Chuck Runyon, Michael Seid, Brad Sugars, Shelly Sun, Pip Wilkins
Managing director of MSA Worldwide, Kay Ainsley advises retail, restaurant, services, manufacturing, and business-to-business industries. Among her achievements has been the creation of development programs to evaluate new international market opportunities, the establishing of programs to source, recruit and select franchisees and the development of training and support programs for multi-unit and individual unit operators. A Certified Franchise Executive, she teaches CFE-accredited classes for the IFA's Educational Foundation. A regular speaker for the IFA, Kay is also a member of its International Committee.
The International Franchise Association – the world's oldest and largest franchising group – is currently under the capable stewardship of Robert Cresanti, who became its President and CEO in September, 2015. Cresanti is well-qualified to occupy the position, having already held the posts of Vice President of Corporate Affairs & Government Relations at SAP America, Inc. and Under Secretary for Technology for the Department of Commerce, where he was an enthusiastic global advocate for the United States high tech industry. Education: Cresanti received a law degree from Baylor University School of Law, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Austin College. He also earned a certificate of EC Law from the University of Glasgow Law School and completed a master’s courses in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS.
Co-chairwoman of Dwyer Group, Dina Dwyer Owens has more than 30 years experience in the franchise industry, whose profile she raised with her two appearances on TV's Undercover Boss. Now co-chairwoman of Dwyer Group, she is part of an organisation that looks after 12 brands with more than 2,600 franchise owners worldwide. In 2012, Dina launched the Dwyer Group Women in the Trades Initiative, “an educational and informational outreach program to tell more women about the opportunities that exist within the service trades, from front-line service professional all the way to franchise owner.” She has cited her major achievements (in this magazine) as “my years as CEO of Dwyer Group, Chairwoman of the International Franchise Association, and Co-Chair of Dwyer Group today.”
As CEO of Edwards Global Services, William 'Bill' Edwards has assisted innumerable companies to expand successfully across the world, and has shared his hard-won expertise with the franchise industry as a whole. From webinars to statistics to in-depth online infotorials, EGS has been at the forefront of information dissemination. “We are always developing new tools to fine-tune our country analysis for specific franchise brands,” Bill recently told Global Franchise. “We are also increasing the range of global information sources that we monitor to try to predict a country's economic and political climate.” Drawing on over 40 years of international experience, Bill has worked on projects in 68 countries to date.
Representing more than 500 franchise brands, franchise attorney Lane Fisher served as a member of the International Franchise Association’s Board of Directors from 2005-2011, is a past member of its executive committee, and a past chair of the executive committee of the Supplier Forum Advisory Board. Lane also served as chair of the Legal Symposium Task Force from 2006-2009 and previously worked on the Federal Advisory Board. As well as being a frequent speaker at franchise conferences, Lane has written extensively on many aspects of franchising. He has published more than 50 articles and has been a frequent commentator and contributor to various media.
It's no good having a great brand if you don't shout about it and PR agencies make it their job to do just that. One PR that has carved out a deep niche in the franchising field is Fishman Public Relations, which is owned and run by husband and wife team Brad Fishman – he's the CEO and Sherri Fishman is the company's President. In 1991 Sherri recognised a gaping hole in the market for a franchise-specialised PR firm and set about filling it. With 26 years of experience and a strong presence at all the big franchise expos, FishmanPR has become a very well connected business. Speaking to Global Franchise magazine recently, Brad Fishman said that work he and Sherri do “is meaningful...the coverage we generate actually leads to somebody making a life-changing decision to own a business.”
In 2004, Jason Gehrke founded The Franchise Advisory Centre, to advise on best franchising practise and offer a consulting and coaching service to potential franchsisors and franchisees. The center now runs the largest program of franchise education events in Australia. Over 50 are held annually, all of which are endorsed by the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA). Gehrke's involvement in franchising spans more than 25 years, and he's a practising franchisor himself through his directorship of the 130 store Inspirations Paint chain. He speaks at franchise conferences throughout Australia, as well as at franchise association conferences in Malaysia, New Zealand, Brazil and France.
“Franchising offers a uniquely accessible opportunity for those who want to better their lives,” Aziz Hashim recently wrote in this magazine. Past Chair of the International Franchise Association, Hashim speaks from experience. “As a child of immigrants,” he said, “I started as an entry level worker at minimum wage and grew to be one of the top franchise operators in the U.S, with several high-profile brands.” Hashim's own experience spurred a desire to help others up the franchising ladder: “As a franchisee I created a program called Own It! to help my hourly workers ascend the ladder and buy a franchise just as I did. Once an employee becomes a manager and expresses interest in ownership, I will sell one of my units to them and often help finance it.” Hashim is a compelling speaker at IFA events and a passionate advocate for franchisee engagement.
As franchising increasingly goes global, the pivotal players are those who are opening up new markets. In October, 2016 the key was turned for Japan when the first International Expo Japan opened in Tokyo. This was the result of joint efforts by Tom Portesy of MFV Expositions and Ichiro Fujita, founder and Chief Executive of I. Fujita International, Inc (IFI). Ichiro Fujita has built a reputation for enabling businesses to expand into the Japanese and Asian markets. A regular keynote speaker at franchise shows in the US, Japan and Asia, Yokohama-born Fujita now lives in Torrance CA, where he continues to assist brands looking to franchise in Japan and environs.
Bedros Keuilian is living proof that the American Dream is alive and kicking. His is the rags-to-riches story of a self-made entrepreneur who escaped communism, came to the United States and ate out of dumpsters before building several multiple million dollar-generating global brands and businesses. Bedros is the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, an indoor fitness boot camp franchise that earned a placing on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in 2016.
A key figure in the Asian franchise industry, Albert Kong is CEO/Managing Director of Asiawide Franchise Consultants Pte Ltd, Asiawide Business Consultants Pte Ltd and Asiawide Trends Pte Ltd. Since Asiawide's inception in 1989, Albert Kong's consultants have assisted over 680 companies to successfully develop in Far Eastern markets. Certified CFE, CMC and SPMC, Kong has been invited to speak at franchise gatherings worldwide. His business has been sub-franchised to Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. In 1994 he devised and launched Asia Franchise & Business Opportunities magazine. Since 1994, Kong as been an executive committee member of the Franchising & Licensing Association. He has been the recipient of a host of awards, including those awarded by franchise associations in China and Taiwan and the Asean Retail Chain and Franchise Association. In March 2017, Albert Kong the 'Outstanding Contribution to Franchising' award from the China Chain Store & Franchising Association.
This year's outstanding businessman is Gordon Logan, the founder and CEO of Sport Clips Haircuts, whom the IFA has named its Entrepreneur of the Year. An ex-aircraft commander in the US Air Force, Logan teamed innovation with Air Force discipline to build the men's and boys hair care chain he launched in 1993 and began to franchise two years later. The Sports Clips brand expects to exceed 1,600 units by 2017 and is the only hair care franchise presently operating in all 50 states. Under Logan's leadership, the chain has become known as a leading franchise for veterans and has raised nearly $5 million for the VFW Foundation through its Help A Hero campaign.
The CEO of global signage company Fastsigns International, Catherine Monson also does much work for the IFA. She has been involved with the Women’s Franchise Committee, the Franchise Relations Committee, Franchise Business Network meetings and various IFA conventions. A recipient of the IFA’s Bonny LeVine Award, (which recognizes outstanding accomplishments by women in franchising), Catherine Monson is known for her mentoring leadership style and for her concern about her franchisees on business and personal levels.
University of Melbourne educated Damian Paull had a leadership role at the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) before being appointed Chief Executive Officer at the Franchise Council of Australia. FCA Executive Chairman, Bruce Billson said of him,“Damian comes to the franchise sector with a sound systems-based understanding of the shared purpose, collaboration and mutual respect between franchisors and franchisees that is at the heart of successful franchises and their capacity to support $144 billion of annual economic activity and more than 460,000 local jobs.”
As President and CEO of MFV Expositions, it's been Tom Portesy's job to organize the events that have been bringing together franchisor and franchisee all over the world. Under his direction, MFV Expositions hosts the three leading franchise events in the U.S: International Franchise Expo, Franchise Expo West and Franchise Expo South – as well as multiple events in Mexico, England, Ireland, Japan and Spain. With more than 25 years of global sales and executive management experience, Tom is widely involved with franchising: he works closely with the International Franchise Association and similar organisations worldwide and has participated as a panelist and moderator in countless educational seminars and symposia.
Chuck Runyon is the powerhouse CEO of Self Esteem Brands, the parent company of Waxing the City and the notably successful Anytime Fitness, which he owns and runs with business partner, Dave Mortenson. With a USP of staying open 24/7, 365 days a year, the Anytime Fitness concept has been rolled out worldwide and the company now has a presence in over 20 countries. In the U.S. Runyon's focused fitness clubs have established sites in almost 2,000 locations. The idea for the chain was developed in the 1990s by Chuck Runyon along with Dave Mortensen, and Jeff Klinger while working for a St Paul, Minnesota fitness club which they joint-purchased. Following the buy-out, membership rose from 500 to 4,000. Anytime Fitness was launched in 2002.
The founder and managing director of the franchise advisory firm MSA, Michael Seid, a member of the IFA's Board of Directors, is a recognized authority on franchising and business expansion strategy and has over 20 years experience as a senior operations and financial executive or consultant for companies within the franchise, retail, restaurant, hospitality and service industries, as well as having been a franchisee himself. Together with the late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, Michael is the co-author of Franchising for Dummies, published by IDG Books Worldwide.
Australian Brad Sugars is the dynamic president and chairman of ActionCOACH, the company which he set up in Brisbane as Action International when he was in his early twenties. ActionCOACH is now a leading global business coaching firm with more than 1,000 coaches in 70 countries and it is responsible for the coaching of some 15,000 businesses per week. He achieved such success, he says, through hard work, determination and a systemized approach to business. ActionCOACH is far from being the only string to his restless bow; as an author, business coach and entrepreneur, Brad Sugars has operated more than two dozen companies.
A personal family crisis put Shelly Sun on the road to business success and eventually to her present position as new Chair of the International Franchising Association. In 2001, difficulties encountered in sourcing quality care for her husband's grandmother led to her creation of BrightStar Care in 2002. By 2005, the company had three successful locations but Shelly was convinced that expansion could be dramatically accelerated through franchising – and so it proved. The company now boasts over 300 locations in the US and Canada and has its sights firmly fixed on overseas expansion. “By 2018”, Shelly Sun has told Global Franchise, we plan to have three brands in total and we will be operating in at least eight international markets.”
Pip Wilkins is the bfa’s chief executive, succeeding Brian Smart who recently retired from British franchising's top post after 27 years in the role. Pip has 18 years’ experience in the franchise sector, working her way up within the Association, in which she has held a number of senior positions, and is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. A passionate advocate for British franchising, Pip regularly speaks at events and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing for national, local and franchise press.
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