California: A State with Golden Opportunity - Open for Opportunity

The Open for Opportunity Roadshow made a stop in Northern California for two days packed with roundtables and meetings with local franchise owners, community leaders, and stakeholders to discuss the ways franchising benefits their local communities and the people within them.

Starting in San Jose, the week kicked off with a tour of a Cinnabon with local owner Alex Johnson. Johnson also owns several Auntie Anne’s locations through his company Pretzel Power. Like many franchise owners in the region, he believes it is important that his customers understand they are a local business, and that their employees are from the community they’re serving.

Bringing voices from across the region into conversation, the group hosted a workforce roundtable with local franchisees, elected officials and others. Discussion focused on the passion in being an entrepreneur,  but also the struggle of the local business owners still operating with the impacts of the pandemic. The group also covered the connection that they feel with their employees and to their local communities, and how that connection intersects with work of elected officials. Participants included:

  • Shannon Sevor, GYMGUYZ (franchisee)
  • Alex Johnson, Auntie Anne’s & Cinnabon (franchisee)
  • David Habas, HK Enterprises/Supercuts (franchisee)
  • The Honorable Chappie Jones, Vice Mayor City of San Jose
  • The Honorable Carmen Montano, Vice Mayor City of Milpitas
  • The Honorable Anthony Phan, City Council of Milpitas
  • The Honorable Gino Borgioli, City Council of Morgan Hill
  • Derrick Seaver, San Jose Chamber of Commerce
  • Scott Knies, San Jose Downtown Association
  • Dennis King, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley

Following the roundtable, Shannon Sevor showed us his GYMGUYZ mobile fitness studio. Shannon shared that with GYMGUYZ, he has the ability to recruit individuals to be a part of something bigger than themselves. He and his team prioritize “serving the underserved,” by contributing time and training to increase the health and wellness their community.

Then the group went to see David Habas of Supercuts. Habas owns hundreds of stores in four states and takes pride that he has many employees who have been with the brand for over thirty-five years. Although Supercuts is a well-known brand, each location finds ways to connect with the community by supporting local teams or through volunteer work.

Next up was Office Evolution in Los Gatos, owned by Debbie Boles and her husband Deon. Office Evolution is a coworking office business – a service in high demand in an area full of tech companies and entrepreneurs. During the pandemic, Debbie and her team found a way to help local families – even while most people did not have a need for office space. They found that there was a great need for space for “Zoom school,” which created strong relationships with the community that have lasted to this day.

The Roadshow then headed to Sacramento to host an Open for Opportunity roundtable on the ways in which franchising supports the small business workforce. This roundtable highlighted the impact of franchising on the California workforce and economy, despite public policy challenges in the state and how the business community can work together to set entrepreneurs up for success in the state. Participants included:

  • Greg Flynn, Flynn Restaurant Group (franchisee)
  • Joe Mabutas, AdvantaClean (franchisee)
  • Brendan McGagin, CertaPro (franchisee)
  • Jennifer Barrera, California Chamber of Commerce
  • Ashley Hoffman, California Chamber of Commerce
  • Loren Kaye, California Chamber of Commerce
  • John Hoffman
  • Nate Haderlie
  • Tony Lutfi, Marlu Investment Group, Arby’s franchisee

The group also met with a number of local franchise owners in the Sacramento area, including Joe Mabutas, of Advanta Clean. Joe gained experience as a staff member at Advanta Clean, and four years later when he had the opportunity to become the owner, and he took it. He and his team provided an essential service to his community during the pandemic by sanitizing homes and businesses. Greg Flynn – founder, chairman, and CEO of Flynn Restaurant Group – provided a tour of one of his Panera Bread locations.  Gloria Roach, owner of Hammer and Nails, shared how the franchise provides a unique grooming and self-care service for men. Rounding the Northern California Roadshow out was a trip to FASTSIGNS to meet with owner Robby Ricks, whose business focuses on inspiring the local community with their signs.

In addition to the back-of-house tours, the group met up with Sacramento City Councilmember Jeff Harris to discuss the key issues facing franchising in California. Harris has thirty years of small business owner, which makes him a strong advocate for small businesses and economic development.

This roadshow stop was action packed, with important discussions on the future of small business in California between elected officials, franchisees and leaders within the community. Most importantly, the Roadshow showed Northern California is Open for Opportunity.