Leading the Charge: Showcasing IFA’s Entrepreneurs of the Year

One of the most coveted honors in franchising is IFA’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The award recognizes innovators that demonstrate the best of the entrepreneurial spirit. IFA’s Chair highlights recent winners who are currently active on the association’s boards and committees.


By Shelly Sun, CFE
Entrepreneurs play a vital role in the growth of the franchising. Being named IFA’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 was a highlight of my career, and a validator of our decision to employ franchising as a method of expansion. My involvement with the Executive Committee over the past few years has reiterated the importance of the award and recognizing the people who have contributed to IFA’s success. Just look at the full list, and you’ll find some of franchising’s legendary founders, along with some of today’s brightest minds in franchising.
IFA’s awards program started in 1979 with the Hall of Fame Award, joined shortly after with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1982. Other IFA awards include the Bonny LeVine Award (established in 1994 to honor women in franchising), the Ronald E. Harrison Diversity Award, created in 2004 to showcase organizations and individuals who contribute to diversity and inclusion. There are also awards for free enterprise, Franchisee of the Year, and programs that honor franchising champions in the government relations/political environment, marketing and innovation, as well as educational leaders through IFA’s Franchise Education and Research Foundation.
What makes a great entrepreneur? Vision, innovation, persistence — the superlatives go on. Each of these Entrepreneur of the Year winners possess those qualities, and more. I’d like to highlight recent award winners who have contributed large amounts of their professional and personal time to IFA’s mission to protect, enhance and promote franchising, including service on IFA boards and committees.


2016: Gordon B. Logan, Sport Clips

Gordon Logan is founder and CEO of Sport Clips Haircuts and a member of IFA’s Board of Directors. He’s invested countless time serving as the former Chair of IFA’s VetFran Committee, and his generosity doesn’t stop at time. In June, Gordon and Sport Clips donated $500,000 to VetFran to help ensure that more veterans can find opportunities in franchising when returning from military service. Gordon opened his first Sport Clips in 1993. Two years later, the company started franchising, and the rest is history, expanding the brand to more than 1,600 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Read more about Gordon Logan in the April 2017 edition of Franchising World, page 18.


2015: Guillermo Perales, Sun Holdings

Guillermo Perales grew up and Mexico and came to the U.S. with the American Dream in his heart and a desire to succeed in business on his mind. Guillermo opened his first Golden Corral franchise in 1997 and founded Sun Holdings not long after. Among the brands in the company’s portfolio are Burger King, Krispy Kreme, Arby’s, Cicis Pizza, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Golden Corral, T-Mobile and GNC. Besides being a leading businessman, Guillermo is also a philanthropist and proponent of community service. Read more about Guillermo Perales in the April 2016 edition of Franchising World, page 13.


2014: Aslam Khan, Falcon Holdings

Aslam Khan is the largest franchisee in the Church’s Chicken system. Falcon Holdings has acquired more than 75 Church’s Chicken restaurants in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Texas, and made them into profit-generating entities. Aslam’s passion, focus, and energy are apparent at Falcon Holdings, as well as in his service on IFA’s International Committee.


2013: Scott Hillstrom, The Healthstore Foundation

Scott Hillstrom practiced law as Managing Partner of Hillstrom & Bale in the 1980s before co-founding and working as Managing Director of Rehab One. Since then, he has served on various boards in the U.S., Europe, Africa and New Zealand. Scott is co-founder and Chairman of The Healthstore Foundation, which develops and operates franchise networks of medical clinics serving Africa’s poor. He is a member of IFA’s Social Sector Franchising Task Force.


2009: Shelly Sun, CFE, BrightStar Care

In addition to serving as IFA Chair, Shelly leads the IFA Convention Committee and is a member of the Franchisor Forum. BrightStar Care began franchising in 2005, and has grown to more than 300 locations. The healthcare staffing company has received several awards in recent years, including placement on Forbes’ list of Top 10 best franchises to buy under $150,000 initial investment from 2014-2016, the Inc. 5000 list each year from 2010-2015, and receiving the Joint Commission’s Enterprise Champion of Quality Award from 2013-2016.


2008: Tariq Farid, Edible Arrangements

Tariq Farid, CFE, is Founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements International. Born in Pakistan in 1969, Tariq immigrated to the United States when he was 11. He became a U.S. citizen in 1986. As a teenager, Tariq worked in a local McDonald’s for several years, where he learned the power of business systemization. He launched the first Edible Arrangements store in 1999 in East Haven, Conn. The brand’s first franchise location opened in 2001. Tariq’s personal support for franchisees — in large part as an IFA Board Member — has been a hallmark of the Edible Arrangements success story.


2001: David McKinnon, Service Brands International

David McKinnon, CFE, is Senior Advisor at The Dwyer Group and member of the IFA Board of Directors. He is the co-founder of Service Brands International, which Dwyer Group acquired in June 2015. Chairman of the Franchise Education and Research Foundation’s Board, David heads the NextGen in Franchising initiative that has grown in popularity each year. He is the co-founder of the Ms. Molly Foundation and active supporter of IFA’s Foundation.
Find out more about IFA’s awards programs, including the recipient of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, during 2018 IFA Annual Convention, which takes place Feb. 10-13 in Phoenix, Ariz. Register for #IFA2018 today at franchise.org/convention, and find out more about IFA’s awards program at franchise.org/ifa-awards-program.



Shelly Sun, CFE, is IFA Chair and CEO of BrightStar Care, based in Gurnee, Ill. For more information about franchise opportunities at BrightStar Care, visit franchise.org/brightstar-care-franchise and franchise.brightstarcare.com.