Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Issue II, 2017 - Page 20

MU LT I- BRA ND BY DEBBIE SELINSKY Master of Diversifi cation B A business built on passion, focus, and determination ob Middleton heard or read some- thing years ago that stuck with him: Wealth is built by focusing on one thing and doing it well; wealth is preserved by diversifying. He considers that the best piece of advice he’s ever received. “I came around to diversi- fying so that one brand didn’t determine my success,” he says. That philosophy led him to where he is today, a successful franchisee for Jersey Mike’s Subs, Little Caesars Pizza, Sonic Drive-In, and Del Taco. With properties in Michigan and Canada, he’s even diver- sifi ed out of the country. After 25 years in franchising and 35 years in the food business, Middleton has not slowed down. A self-made millionaire, he credits Richard Mueller with teaching him opera- tions. Hired early on by Mueller’s RPM Pizza (Domino’s Pizza’s largest franchisee), Middleton discovered his skill for turn- ing around unprofi table stores and soon found himself overseeing RPM’s restau- rants in Canada and making a success of them. Then things changed. “There was a time when Domino’s Pizza could do no wrong. Then it fell out 18 MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE I SS UE II , 2 01 7 of favor and the company just couldn’t do anything right. I saw a lot of successful people forced to sell,” he recalls. RPM decided to get out of the Canadian mar- ket and offered Middleton fi rst shot at its nine stores there. He bought fi ve. Seven years later, he sold those units with the goal of building Domino’s in Michigan. “Then Little Caesars contacted me and wanted me to buy a bunch in Toronto. I fi gured it was easier and faster to take over and fi x these than to build one at a time,” he says. Middleton, who lives in Rochester, Mich., says his brand and unit acquisitions have followed something of a pattern. “I only became a Domino’s franchisee as a result of it crashing and burning. I only became a Little Caesars franchisee eight years later because they were going through a diffi cult time,” he says. “When I’m making money, I diversify and build something else. I began with Del Taco in Michigan with the idea of putting it together with Sonic to get the best real estate deals. It’s worked for me.” Other business strategies have played a role in his success as a multi-brand franchi- see. “I stick with food because that’s what I know. I was impressed by Warren Buffet when, even in the late ’90s, he didn’t get involved in technology because he said he didn’t understand it. I, too, only get involved in things I understand.” Middleton, who with partners has launched 15 employees as franchisees, also has structured his four brands as separate entities with four different eq- NAME: Bob Middleton TITLE: Multi-unit franchisee COMPANY: OTB Pizza Company (Little Caesars Pizza); Sharing the Bread (Jersey Mike’s Subs); PRG- SD (Sonic Drive-In); Providential Restaurant Group (Del Taco) NO. OF UNITS: 19 Little Caesars Pizza; 15 Jersey Mike’s Subs; 3 Sonic Drive-In; 2 Del Taco AGE: 56 FAMILY: Wife Dawn and sons Ryan and Zach YEARS IN FRANCHISING: 25 YEARS IN CURRENT POSITION: 25