How the Encourage Manufacturers CEO Discovered to Care About Firm Tradition

In Private Board of Administrators, prime enterprise leaders speak concerning the folks they flip to for recommendation, and the way these folks have formed their perspective and helped them succeed. Earlier installments from the sequence are right here.

Paul Brown

remembers getting a pricey lesson when he left Boston Consulting Group early in his profession for a startup.

Mr. Brown says he had grow to be enamored with the web growth sweeping the U.S. within the late ’90s and jumped to an internet journey portal. The startup quickly flopped, taking his financial savings with it.

“This was that massive failure second,” stated Mr. Brown, who was in his early 30s on the time and had two younger kids. “I had to consider what I need to be doing in my profession—what I’m actually good at doing.”

Mr. Brown, who’s now 55 years outdated, narrowed his focus to the hospitality enterprise and dealing with established corporations. He consulted for McKinsey & Co. earlier than changing into

Expedia Group Inc.’s

North American president, serving to to plot technique on the travel-booking web site.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 55
  • Schooling: Georgia Tech B.S.; Northwestern M.B.A.
  • Household: spouse Lisa, son Alex, daughter Kelsey
  • Grew up: Atlanta metro space
  • First job: Fry prepare dinner at McDonald’s
  • Time the alarm clock goes off: Weekdays at 4:35 a.m.
  • Enjoyable reality: Traveled to greater than 60 nations, flew on first airplane at 21 years outdated
  • Favourite drink: Double espresso
  • Worst profession recommendation ever obtained: ‘You’d be loopy to take the Arby’s job.’ The one that advised me that now works for me at Encourage.

Mr. Brown’s subsequent place as president of worldwide manufacturers and shared companies at


Worldwide Holdings Inc. helped him achieve expertise in bringing collectively disparate manufacturers underneath one banner.

Blackstone Group

had simply purchased Hilton, and he realized extra about private-equity sponsors of corporations, he stated. In 2013, private-equity agency Roark Capital Group tried to recruit Mr. Brown to steer its Arby’s funding. He initially turned them down.

“I went, ‘That appears exhausting,’ ” Mr. Brown stated. Roark satisfied him to take the leap and Mr. Brown oversaw enhancing gross sales. Mr. Brown grew shut with Roark founder

Neal Aronson,

and the 2 helped sketch out a method to amass different midsize restaurant manufacturers to fold collectively. In 2018, they based Encourage Manufacturers Inc., with Mr. Brown serving as chief govt and Roark offering monetary sponsorship. The Atlanta-based firm now owns round 32,000 restaurant areas doing $30 billion in annual gross sales underneath the Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In, Jimmy John’s, Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins chains. Franchisees function most areas.

Eating places this 12 months are going through rising prices and an unsure outlook for client demand, and Mr. Brown stated he worries concerning the economic system additional cooling subsequent 12 months. Identical-store gross sales this 12 months for a few of his manufacturers are weaker in contrast with 2021, after they skilled massive demand surges as America reopened from pandemic closures. However Mr. Brown is bullish on Encourage’s multibrand method.

“Folks went into this example in a singular surroundings we’ve by no means seen earlier than,” he stated. “I’m feeling good concerning the portfolio and the way we’re competing.”

Listed here are 4 of his most trusted advisers:

Adm. Sandy Winnefeld

Chairman, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

Mr. Brown stated he met Mr. Winnefeld years in the past at a gathering for Georgia Tech alumni, the place each males had been sitting round a campfire late one evening. Mr. Winnefeld shared tales about his time with the U.S. Navy, the place he finally served because the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees. Mr. Brown was struck by the officer’s capacity to steer by complicated and prolonged challenges.

Since then, Mr. Brown has turned to Adm. Winnefeld, now retired from the U.S. Navy, for steering on the way to lead groups, calling him for recommendation on the way to preserve staff aligned with the corporate’s technique.

“He’s simply that man on the opposite finish of the telephone,” Mr. Brown stated.

Mr. Brown has tapped Adm. Winnefeld to talk with Encourage senior leaders and restaurant franchisees. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Mr. Winnefeld talked to employees nearly about the way to preserve transferring by a disaster, Mr. Brown stated.

Barry Diller

Chairman and Senior Govt of


and Expedia Group

Mr. Brown nonetheless remembers the second when he was on a prepare in London in 2005 and obtained a name from Mr. Diller, who was attempting to recruit him to his Expedia journey web site from McKinsey.

“It wasn’t a going-through-the-motions name. He genuinely cared whether or not I joined that firm,” stated Mr. Brown, who tries to emulate that method with Encourage staff.

Mr. Diller’s pitch labored, and after he took the Expedia job, Mr. Brown stated he realized from the highest govt about the way to negotiate. One central tenet: By no means bluff, except you might be keen to just accept the implications. In any other case, Mr. Brown stated, “you’ve misplaced your leverage without end with them, and also you’ve misplaced credibility within the relationship.”

Christopher Nassetta

President and CEO, Hilton

Mr. Nassetta was one of many first folks Mr. Brown referred to as for recommendation on the way to take care of the pandemic’s affect on his eating places’ operations. Mr. Brown’s former boss navigated the 2008 monetary meltdown, and Mr. Nassetta suggested him to shore up Encourage’s steadiness sheet and have money available, he stated.

“He simply had his plan proper and that helped in executing it,” Mr. Brown stated.

Mr. Brown has additionally turned to Mr. Nassetta for steering about knitting collectively manufacturers underneath one firm, a course of he’s now engaged in at Encourage throughout its eating places. He was initially skeptical concerning the significance of brand name tradition at Hilton—which owns Hampton Inn, DoubleTree and Embassy Suites—however Mr. Nassetta confirmed him how a lot it will possibly matter, Mr. Brown stated.

When a scenario comes up for an worker, having a robust sense of the model’s requirements issues greater than an in depth working guide, Mr. Brown ecalled studying underneath Mr. Narsetta.

“That’s the one glue that may maintain it collectively,” he stated.

Melissa Coley

Govt Assistant to the CEO, Encourage Manufacturers

Ms. Coley was employed as Mr. Brown’s assistant quickly after he joined Arby’s, and inside months she was identified with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She requested to proceed working as a lot as potential throughout her remedy. About 18 months after profitable remedy of the lymphoma, Ms. Coley was later identified with leukemia.

Mr. Brown stated Ms. Coley’s angle and work ethic typically conjures up him, notably when he’s in a funk.

“I’ve these moments the place one thing might be going mistaken and I begin feeling a bit of sorry for myself,” he stated. “And I stroll out the door and I’ll be like, ‘Snap again out of it Paul. Good God.’ ”

Extra Private Board of Administrators

Write to Heather Haddon at

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Rahul Diyashi
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