Franchise moguls hit the slopes at UnConference

Franchise moguls hit Park City, Utah to meet the snowy kind and gather for the 4th-annual UnConference hosted by Fishman Public Relations, Fisher Zucker and Hot Dish Media to network and discuss issues facing franchising today. As the sun blazed down on the slopes, the franchise skiers were also reflecting a bright outlook: every franchise president, CEO, founder and chairman predicted growth for their companies in 2012.

Choice Hotels President & CEO Steve Joyce – and IFA 2nd Vice Chairman – said “12” will be a positive year. He said pressure on the construction industry has led to a lack of hotel supply – adding up to a promising outlook for hoteliers for the next four to five years. FOCUS Brands CEO, Roark Capital Managing Director and IFA 1st Vice Chairman Steve Romaniello echoed the optimism, saying that while commodity prices could mean hidden perils for the foodservice industry, financing is easier and customers are coming back. Maybe that’s why Roark’s Geoff Hill charged up the mountains to face the double-diamond slopes – the most difficult at Park City’s Canyons resort – leading a pack that included John Francis of PostNet, Brian Wheelis of Facebook (a first-time UnConferencer) and others. Bonzai!

IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira said the IFA remains on high alert, given Washington, D.C.’s hostile legislative and regulatory environment. With health care mandates, aggressive union-backed labor regulations, and potential tax reform on the horizon, Caldeira said IFA’s renewed Government Relations & Public Policy team will be backed by a potent Political Action Committee. “We will have a $1 million PAC” for the 2012 election cycle, said Caldeira. It’s the first time in history IFA will hit this high mark, helped by the $10,000 raised in an UnAuction at the event hosted by IFA’s Director of Political Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy Erica Fitzsimmons.

In between slalom runs and snowboarding, “Undercover Boss” stars Joyce, FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson (airing May 4), Budget Blinds CEO and Co-Founder Chad Hallock (airing April 13), Philly Pretzel Factory CEO and Co-Founder Dan Dizio (airing April 27) as well as BrightStar Care CEO and Co-Founder Shelly Sun joined show producer Tom Ham to discuss the rollercoaster ride of being featured on the CBS series in another UnConference UnPanel.

UnConference hosts Lane Fisher of Fisher Zucker, the franchise law firm, Brad Fishman of Fishman Public Relations, and Dawn Kane of Hot Dish Advertising founded the popular event four years ago to bring together industry leaders in a relaxed environment.
This year, the 175 attendees included over 70 franchise executives, 50 CEOs, 16 current or former IFA board members, four past IFA Chairs, two incoming Chairs, a juggler, a moonwalker and a pianist.

“Now, it’s your job to find them,” said Fisher, swishing off each day to face the snowy moguls with his wife Melissa and a wide range of franchise leaders. “And ski hard.”

“I’m excited,” said co-founder Fishman, a gold medal-level skier, even while leading the event’s late-night socializing. “This started out as an opportunity for us to have fun together and it slowly turned into something that a lot of people can enjoy and also get a lot of knowledge. They can spend time together and connect in a relaxed way. That’s why a lot of people like it.”

Posted by Beth Solomon, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Industry Relations