Founder & Former Chair, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shops

General Session: Freaky Fast! The Journey of Building a Multi-Billion Dollar Brand

Jimmy John’s is one of America’s best-known Gourmet Sandwich shops, but how did it happen? Founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, has often said he is living the American Dream and during IFA’s 2021 Convention, he’ll tell you why. Jimmy graduated second-to-last in his high school class and while his father wanted him to join the Army, he wanted to start a business. With passion, determination and a $25,000 investment from his father, Jimmy got to work in 1983 on building Jimmy John’s — and never looked back.

It’s been over 36 years since Jimmy founded Jimmy John’s with over 2,800 stores in 43 states and that experience came with many life lessons. During this entertaining, yet eye-opening, journey of growing a billion dollar brand, Jimmy will share it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Did you know he had to stop franchising for a year to work side-by-side with his franchisees to re-train them on systems and procedures? Through Jimmy’s perseverance, hard work and leadership, mixed with a whole lot of fun, the Gourmet Sandwich shop, known for its “freaky fast” service, was sold to Inspire Brands in October 2019 in a multi-billion dollar deal. How did this average kid from humble beginnings start a business out of a garage in Charleston, Illinois and build it into one of the fastest-growing sandwich empires in the country?

Join us and hear from the enigmatic Jimmy John Liautaud himself about his unique journey — what mistakes did he make, what are some of the lessons he learned, what challenges and opportunities did he seize upon, and what is his best bit of advice to anyone looking to grow their franchise business now and in the future?

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