Tom & Kathy Burrell, Second Generation McDonald's Owner/Operators
Tom Burrell and his six siblings grew up in the progressive college town of Ypsilanti, Michigan – home to Eastern Michigan University. When Tom was a teenager, his father, James (Jim), had an opportunity to become a franchisee in what would become one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant franchises.
In 1974, Tom’s parents moved the family to Franklin, Kentucky, where they purchased their first McDonald’s restaurant. Tom (and five of his siblings) worked at the restaurant throughout high school and college. Recognizing the potential at McDonald’s, he became more and more interested in learning everything he could about the restaurant’s operations.
This was an exciting time for the Burrell family! His dad began to expand the business, purchasing existing restaurants in neighboring communities and building new ones throughout Kentucky. Tom also met and married his wife Kathy as well as became the General Manager of the Glasgow, KY, restaurant.
In the late 1980s, after successfully completing McDonald’s next generation program, Tom purchased several of his dad’s restaurants and became a second generation McDonald’s franchise owner/operator. His brother Paul and sister Linda also became owner/operators, taking ownership of some of their parents’ other restaurants. Throughout this transition, Tom began working with CTM Partner Scott Weingart with whom he has become great friends.
“Scott taught me a lot about the financial aspects of growing my business, such as valuing potential restaurants,” noted Tom. “He has good business sense and helped me evaluate different ideas for my organization. He’s also a good guy to be around!”
Today, Tom’s organization is 16 restaurants strong. Tom attributes his success to the people around him. “You are only as good as the people you work with,” commented Tom. “And you should treat them the way you want to be treated.”
To that end, Tom and Kathy have focused on developing their employees by providing them with educational as well as career growth opportunities. Kathy established many of the educational and marketing programs, such as “Pay for Grades,” which are still used to this day. As a result, several of their staff members have come back to work in management roles at their McDonald’s restaurants after graduating from college.
Although he sees the industry as more competitive than ever, he still thinks McDonald’s is a great business to be in. After 43 years in the McDonald’s system, his advice to the next generation of owner/operators is:
Learn as much as you can from family and others;
Work hard, but be humble;
Maintain a positive attitude;
Collaborate with people, and use all of the resources you have;
Be prepared for change; and
Get involved - serve on a committee.
Tom has embraced this philosophy with his McDonald’s family as well as his personal family. Tom and Kathy are blessed with two children, Audrey and Chris as well as their son-in-law Scott and two grandsons Dylan (4 years old) and Austin (2 years old).
Although he has an active lifestyle (Tom enjoys hiking, kayaking and swimming), he is never too busy to lend an ear or a hand in times of need. True to his beliefs, he has participated in mission trips traveling to nearby Appalachia, Kentucky and as far away as Haiti to install a clean water system.
Michael Smylie, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.
As far back as he can remember, Michael Smylie and his four younger brothers (Bart, Matt, John & Jim) grew up eating barbecue at their family cookouts. And not just any type of barbecue – it had to be Texas style barbecue – brisket or pork rubbed with spices and slow cooked over indirect heat. This tradition of preparing meat had been instilled in the family by their father, who is a native of San Antonio, Texas.
So after 10 years of trading at the Board of Trade, working for the family owned independent futures brokerage and clearing house, it was no surprise when Mike decided to shift careers and apply to culinary school, barbecue would somehow end up on his plate.
Mike had always been an avid cook and knew one day he would own his own restaurant. After graduating from the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, with a degree in Business Management and Culinary Arts, he set out to learn everything he could about the business. He washed dishes, waited tables, hosted at the front of the house, and served as a line cook at several fine-dining restaurants. He also worked at a restaurant as a pizza cook for a year, sparking his love of cooking pizza over a wood-burning fire.
Food wasn’t Mike’s only passion. Having graduated from Colorado State University in 1999, he saw first-hand the explosion of craft beer all around him. He missed the innovative flavors and creative ingredients used in the Colorado craft beer scene and knew that when the time was right, he would combine both loves – barbecue and craft beer – into a restaurant concept near his Winnetka home.
In 2014, Mike opened the family-oriented brew pub called Smylie Brothers Brewing Company in a renovated 100-year-old warehouse building in Evanston, IL – a robust city located about halfway between his hometown and Chicago. The architecturally rustic restaurant features state-of-the-art brewing equipment, a variety of Texas style barbecue and, of course, a wood-fired pizza oven. Mike’s brothers have stood behind his culinary dreams and are all investors in the restaurant.
“One of the best things about owning your own restaurant is that you get to be part of people’s lives,” commented Mike. “It’s an honor when a family chooses our restaurant to celebrate a milestone or special event. It’s like our family is celebrating with theirs. It’s really cool!”
Shortly after opening Smylie Brothers, Mike quickly realized the need for financial guidance and contacted CTM Partner Scott Weingart on a referral from his attorney. Fortunately for CTM, Mike clicked with Scott right away, and now trusts Scott’s advice on a variety of business issues. Today, the restaurant employs an average of 50 people (approx. 70 in the summer) and fits perfectly within the Evanston community.
True to his entrepreneurial spirit, Mike is determined to take his brewing capabilities to the next level. He has plans for expanding production of his popular beers and distributing them throughout the region. And while he spends much of his time at the restaurant, Mike always finds time for family, including his wife, Sara (whom he met in college) and three sons Michael Jr., Sean and Patrick. Like Mike, his boys are extremely active and are involved in many activities, including Taekwondo, baseball, soccer, golf and swimming.
David Grossman, Freshii Restaurant Owner
Freshii Master Franchisee David Grossman knew early on that eating healthy was a cultural shift that would become a way of life for millions of millennials. Combining his love of real estate with his active, health-conscious lifestyle, he carved out a niche in the fast casual restaurant industry by partnering with Freshii Founder and CEO, Matthew Corrin.
Following a successful career in real estate development with General Growth Properties and Subway Corporation, David became Freshii’s first master franchisee in the United States. He chose Chicago as the ideal city to open up the first U.S. Freshii restaurant, which opened in June 2008. Since then, he has signed a master franchise deal to open another 80 Freshii locations throughout the Chicagoland area.
David is currently the owner of three Freshii restaurants, as well as the president of Fresh Food Management LLC, which owns and operates all of the Chicago-area locations. As a Chicago native and diehard Cubs fan, David was the brainchild behind Freshii’s recent promotion to waive the $30,000 franchise fee for a prospective Freshii franchisee if the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. He received hundreds of applications in response to this offer.
David became a CTM client in 2014, and developed an immediate rapport with Partner Steven Edelheit and Accounting Manager Julie Babetch. He is grateful for this strong relationship, and appreciates CTM helping him stay one step ahead with his business affairs. As a result, David is able to focus on the future. Adhering to his father’s lifelong advice to “be your own boss,” David is always thinking about the next big idea.
Not surprisingly, David is working on a new venture with DMK Burger Bar, a highly rated burger “joint,” featuring gourmet burgers and a wide selection of American craft beers and craft cocktails. David recently became partners with DMK Burger Bar Co-Owners David Morton and Michael Kornick. At present, there are four DMK Burger Bars located in Chicago and surrounding suburbs, but with David’s franchising expertise and savvy negotiation skills, they have plans to open hundreds more restaurants in the near future.
Although work is always a motivating factor, David believes that to have a happy life, you need to have balance. He is able to achieve this work/life balance by surrounding himself with good people. He has great managers that help him run his business so he can spend quality time with his family – wife, Lauren and three children, Myles, Hallie and Drew. He also enjoys skiing and travelling around the world.
Matthew Shapiro, Owner of Active Glass & Pittco Architectural Metals, Inc.
Matthew Shapiro is the dedicated owner of two successful family businesses: Active Glass, a glass and glazing subcontractor and Pittco Architectural Metals, Inc., an architectural aluminum storefront and curtain wall system manufacturer.
Matt’s grandfather, Morris Shapiro, first started the glazing work business in 1936 at a facility located at Jackson Blvd & Lake St in Chicago. Morris ran the company until his death in 1961. When Matt’s father Alfred took over the company, he was only 20 years old. As the company grew, taking on bigger and bigger projects, Alfred moved the business to a larger facility in Elk Grove Village. In 1995, Alfred seized an opportunity to purchase Pittco, recognizing this was the future of their business. A few years later, with a Business Management degree from Purdue University, Matt followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the family business.
In 2014, Matt took over the companies after his father passed away. During this difficult time, he relied on CTM Partner Marty Magida to help him with the transition. He found Marty to be a valuable resource, and considers CTM more than just his accounting firm. To this day, he regularly consults with Marty on a variety of business decisions.
Today, both Active Glass and Pittco are thriving in the construction industry. Some recent Active Glass jobs include Sunstar Americas headquarters and Fields Chrysler of Glenview. Current projects of Pittco include 151 N. Riverside in Chicago, Navy Pier renovation and Nippert Stadium in Ohio. Matt attributes his companies’ long-term success to their high level of dependability, reliability, versatility and competitive prices. He is personally involved in every project, and always strives to deliver the highest quality product available.
Matt lives with his wife, Michelle, in the Village of Golf, a small community located 17 miles north of Chicago. Although he is passionate about work, he is equally passionate about running, and has completed six marathons to date.
Maureen O'Leary Koteles, McDonald's Owner/Operator
Maureen Koteles tries to spend as much time as possible with her three beautiful grandchildren since becoming a grandmother last summer. Her daughter, Lauren has a sweet, little one-year-old girl, and her son, Michael recently welcomed twins. Maureen is ecstatic about her new role as grandma. Coming from a large family herself, five sisters, Maureen couldn’t be happier about her expanding family. While being a grandmother may be new, there’s nothing new about Maureen's career as a McDonald's Owner/Operator. For the past 23 years, Maureen has been running a successful business in the quick-service restaurant industry.
Maureen is a second-generation McDonald’s franchisee brought into the business by her father John (Jack) P. O’Leary in 1993. Jack became a McDonald’s franchise owner of a restaurant in Belvidere, Illinois, in 1980, after working for McDonald’s Corporation as a regional manager. Even though Maureen had no formal business background, having received a Masters of Education in Counseling from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, when her father became ill, it just made sense for her to take over the business.
In preparation for the business transition, Maureen attended McDonald’s Hamburger University. Still uncomfortable with her lack of financial experience, she sought support and guidance from CTM CPAs and Business Advisors. To this day, Maureen considers CTM her “other family.”
Maureen acquired a second McDonald’s restaurant in Belvidere in 1998, and attributes much of her success to her incredible staff. While she focuses on operations, always striving to deliver a great product, she believes it’s the people that make the difference. She treats her employees well, and always makes them part of the planning process so there are never any surprises.
As her family and business continue to grow, Maureen embraces the future. She finds joy in all that life has to offer, and recently began engaging in another passion of hers, watercolor painting. Maureen is married to her husband of nearly 40 years, Gary, and together they have three amazing children, Michael, Lauren and Brittany.
Ken Spielman, S&B Finishing Company, Inc.
Meet CTM client and business owner Ken Spielman. He began his company, S&B Finishing, with his father, Ralph, in 1977. S&B Finishing provides high-quality powder coating, liquid coating and multi-step coating services. His clients include Caterpillar, Ford, Freightliner, GE, General Motors and John Deere. Together, Kenny and his father built the company by adhering to strong family values: work hard and treat others as you would like to be treated.
Kenny humbly attributes his success to good old-fashioned customer service, which he demands from every member of his staff. S&B proudly offers specialized services for customers with unique order requirements. However, if they aren’t able to perform a job properly, Kenny is not afraid to tell a customer he can’t do it, and then he’ll refer them to a company that can. It’s that client-centric approach that has earned S&B Finishing such a high customer-retention rate.
S&B occupies a 35,000-square-foot facility and over the past 35 years, it has grown to 50 employees, the majority of whom have worked at the company for more than 17 years. Their dedication and loyalty is, in part, the result of Kenny’s generous nature, and the fact that he treats his employees like family. Employees are cross-trained, provided with educational seminars, and are promoted from within. He’s very accommodating of his employees’ personal needs and puts a high priority on time off to enjoy family events and special occasions. S&B Finishing even purchased a house across the street from the factory, which was then converted to a classroom. Over the years, the classroom has hosted afterschool chess clubs, ESL courses, and employee training sessions.
To keep up with business growth, Kenny continues to refine his powder-coating processes, using the latest technologies. As he looks to the future, he is preparing his business for next-generation hiring and training. He’s also working with CTM Partner Marty Magida on Succession Planning.
Jerry Morse-Karzen, North Shore Racquet Club and Jerry Karzen Tennis
CTM client, business owner and former tennis pro Jerry Morse-Karzen was recently inducted into the United States Tennis Association/Midwest Section 2015 Hall of Fame. One can say that Jerry has tennis in his blood. Jerry’s father Richard “Dick” Karzen introduced tennis to Jerry early in his childhood. Dick always had a passion for tennis and decided to purchase the North Shore Racquet Club (NSRC) in 1978 after 30 years in the trucking industry.
It was there Dick taught Jerry the finer points of the game, and eventually, Jerry was skilled enough to play doubles with his father and his father’s friends. Jerry fondly remembers competing with his dad in the USTA National Father/Son Tournaments, and how they won four USTA League National Championships in 1977, 1978 and 1982. His father was his only coach throughout his tennis career.
Jerry began competing in tournaments when he was only 11 years old and his success earned him a tennis scholarship at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation, he joined the professional tennis tour, playing at Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open. Shortly after the tour, Jerry decided to become more involved with the NSRC, which has evolved into one of the premier indoor tennis facilities in the North Shore area.
Carrying on the family legacy, Jerry was able to cultivate the same love of tennis his dad awoke in him with his kids. So much so, that Jerry and son, Brett have won 29 USTA National Father/Son Championship titles since 2001, and Jerry and daughter, Becky have won 13 USTA National Father/Daughter Championship titles since 2003. He has frequently been ranked No. 1 in the USTA Father/Son Open, USTA Father/Daughter Open, USTA Father/Son Senior and USTA Father/Daughter Senior divisions.
Jerry continues to compete while running the NSRC along with his brother John, his sister Jan, and Brett and Becky. To help him with his business tax and accounting needs, Jerry secured the services of CTM Partner Karyl Mandel, CPA, more than 30 years ago. Jerry commented that he has always been very happy with the firm and Karyl, and trusts her expertise to really look out for him.
Jerry lives with his wife of more than 30 years, Claudia, in Wilmette, IL. They are both very proud of their four grown children Brett, Becky, Brooke and Bridget.
Bob & Kris Kenworthy, McDonald’s Owner/Operators
After working for a large organization for many years, Bob Kenworthy discovered something important about himself. He wanted to be more independent. He wanted to run his own business and be fairly compensated for all of his hard work. That’s when he decided to venture out on his own. In 1977, he became a full-time owner/operator of the McDonald’s restaurant near his hometown in Paris, Tennessee. Even though there were risks involved, he felt confident that his restaurant would be a success because he had an incredible brand supported by a strong corporate structure.
He also had a strong team of accounting professionals to help him with his business. When Bob first started his franchising journey, he was referred to CTM (formerly known as CTB) by a colleague, and he met Karyl Mandel, who would become one of his most trusted and valued business advisors. Bob always knew that Karyl looked out for his best interests, and by 2002, Bob owned 11 stores throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.
Early on in his franchising career, Bob’s entire family, including his wife Katie and three children, Rob, Kris and Ted, were involved in his restaurant business. Bob’s daughter Kris took a special interest in his McDonald’s restaurants. At nine years old, Kris used to come to the restaurant at 1019 Mineral Wells in Paris, and take customer orders by pencil. She was passionate about working at McDonald’s. After obtaining her Business degree from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), she moved back home to begin McDonald’s Next Generation program so she could become a McDonald’s restaurant owner/operator herself. Today, Kris owns six restaurants, and is very active in the McDonald’s system. She is a member of the Women's Operator Network and McDonald's Political Action Committee, and is on the Memphis Mid-South Advertising Board. She also participates in several people-team committees and is a member of the McDonald’s technology team.
With CTM’s assistance, Bob and Kris have developed a succession plan for Kris to eventually purchase Bob’s remaining restaurants. Kris hopes that one day her three sons, David, Lee and Nate, might choose to carry on the family legacy too!
Jordan Bressler, CEO and President of TSMGI
In 2000, long-time client Jordan Bressler launched a marketing firm called The Specialized Marketing Group, Inc. (TSMGI). Fifteen years later, what began as a small operation for a sports marketing client, True Value and their marketing around motorsports, has grown into a multi-unit, global enterprise, with high profile clients, such as Abbott, Aon, Ashland, Manchester United, Motorola, NBC Universal and many more.
Mr. Bressler, CEO and President of TSMGI, used his ingenuity and tenacity to become an international businessman, and he credits CTM Partner Steven Edelheit, CPA, CVA, with encouraging him to start his own business.
Today, TSMGI has full-service marketing capabilities and helps companies develop and execute extraordinary marketing engagements, such as global corporate hospitality programs and turnkey commemorative merchandise programs. Most recently, TSMGI inked a deal to work with Abbott, who became the first title sponsor of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a six-race series held in Tokyo, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. For more information about TSMGI, visit www.tsmgi.com.