"There is no limit to what you can do and I am living proof. If I can do it you can do it, too.” That’s the advice Restoration 1 and bluefrog Plumbing + Drain CEO Gary Findley shared with students, faculty, advisory board members and guests of the Titus Center for Franchising Tuesday in the Vera Lea Rinker auditorium on campus.
Findley, who affectionately refers to himself as the Redneck CEO, recounted his experiences of growing up in a small Central Texas town where he spent his youth working on local farms and even “once riding my horse to school.” From those humble beginnings has become one of franchising’s leading authorities on growing brands.
“The work style I learned growing up in the country continues to guide me today,” he said. “That’s where I learned the work ethic that I have today.”
After operating a number of successful fitness businesses, Findley joined the women’s fitness chain Curves where he was instrumental in the young brand’s explosive growth from a handful of locations to more than 8,000 franchises worldwide.
“We sold as many as 3,000 locations in one year,” he said. “We were in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was an amazing story.”
Findley now serves as CEO of Restoration 1, where he has grown the chain from less than 20 locations to more than 250 in 37 states in less than three years. He recently acquired bluefrog Plumbing + Drain and has the five-year-old chain on a similar growth path.
“Being able to help people achieve their dreams has been a great thing for me,” he told the audience. “That’s the great thing about franchising.”
Findley credited much of his success to his mentors, including franchising icon Don Dwyer, founder of the Dwyer Group, which has since grown into a global home services franchise chain with thousands of franchise locations worldwide and recently rebranded as Neighborly. Dwyer also mentored Titus Center Chair Dr. John Hayes.
“Don took the time to help me and mentor me when I was young,” he said, “and now I always make sure to try to do that any chance I get today.”
Speaking directly to the students in the audience, he added, “You are in a very unique position and have an opportunity to learn from the best here with Dr. John Hayes and his team.”
Findley is the latest in a high profile list of speakers who have shared their experiences and expertise with the Titus Center For Franchising, including Aziz Hashim, private equity franchise operator; and Robert Cresanti, CEO of the International Franchise Association.