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March 2005 : Franchising World

Mary Ellen Sheets

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Two Men And A Truck

First presented in 1982, this award is conferred upon an individual who is currently building a successful business venture.  The recipient need not be an IFA member, but must exemplify the “entrepreneurial spirit” that franchising represents.  He or she must demonstrate innovative management skills and be a risk taker in a franchise that has been in operation for at least three years, while remaining active in his or her community.

In the early 1980s, Mary Ellen Sheets' teenaged sons started a moving business with a pickup truck.  After they left for college, customers kept calling.  In 1985, Sheets paid $350 for an old moving truck and officially opened Two Men And A Truck.  When she first sketched the now-famous company logo, a simple graphic of two stick men in a truck cab to catch readers’ attention, she never guessed it would lead to entrepreneurial success.

Sheets’ focus on the customer, along with a thorough understanding of data processing, quickly garnered her a reputation as an up-and-coming businessperson, which, in turn earned her a spot on a panel at a Michigan State University graduate business seminar in 1988.  One of the panelists asked if she had ever considered franchising.  The comment inspired Sheets to seek a franchise attorney.  In 1988, she franchised the company and in 1989 Two Men And A Truck awarded its first franchise.  There are now 150 locations in 27 states.

 Sheets is a member of the IFA board of directors, the Franchisor Forum and Membership Committee.  She serves on the boards of Lansing Community College, Michigan Freedom Foundation, Michigan Law Abuse Watch and Edward Sparrow Hospital.  Sheets was the United Way Campaign Chair for 2004.  She has won various awards, including the Athena Award, Michigan Top 25 Women Business Owners, Lansing Business Person of the Year and Ernst & Young Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year awards.


YEAR              WINNER                                 COMPANY                                                

2003               Russell Umphenour                     RTM Restaurant Group

2002               Steven J. Greenbaum, CFE      PostNet International Franchise Corp.

2001               David G. McKinnon                     Service Brands International

2000               Sidney Feltenstein                      Yorkshire Global Restaurants

1999               Robert Funk, CFE                       Express Services

1998               Frank Belatti                                AFC Enterprises

1997               Richard B. Rennick, CFE           American Leak Detection

1996               Anthony W. DeSio                      Mail Boxes Etc.

1995               Abe Gustin, Jr.                             Applebee’s International Inc.

1994               Julie and Bill Brice                      The Brice Group

1993               Shigeharu Komai                        Duskin Co.

1992               Joseph Francis, Sr.                    The Barbers, Hairstyling Inc.

1991               U. Gary Charlwood, CFE           Uniglobe Travel Inc.

1990               Anthony Martino, CFE                MAACO Enterprises

1989               Al Copeland                                 Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits

1988               Fred DeLuca, CFE                     Subway Sandwiches & Salads

1987               W. J. Hindman, CFE                   Jiffy Lube International Inc.

1986               Thomas Monaghan                     Domino’s Pizza Inc.

1985               John Brown, Jr.                            KFC Corp.

1984               J. Willard Marriott                        Marriott Corp.

1983               Frank Carney, CFE                    Pizza Hut, Inc.

1982               Kemmons Wilson                        Holiday Inn Inc.