The Jackson file Featured

10:30am EDT December 28, 2005

Born: Garden City

Education: Eastern Michigan University

First job: I had paper routes when I was younger, but my first real job was at a Dairy Queen not far from my house, where I worked summers.

While in college, I worked on the line at Ford and hung out with my friends, who worked at this pizza place. That pizza shop was the converted hamburger shop Jim Hearn [Hungry Howie’s founder] opened. I left college before graduating because there were few teaching jobs available in the 1970s. I quit Ford Motor Co. and I opened up Hungry Howie’s No. 2.

What is your greatest business challenge?
Franchisees come to us because they want to fulfill the American Dream. They want to be in business for themselves, but they want to come to us to learn a business.

To manage those entrepreneurs is a challenge. We have to be able to channel their spirit and teach them new things in a way they will accept them.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
You have to be able to identify people’s strengths and don’t ask them to do more than they are capable of doing.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
I admire people like Ray Kroc, Colonel Sanders and Dave Thomas. When Kroc and Sanders started their businesses, Ray was in his 50s and the Colonel was in his 60s.

There is never a timetable on success — there is never a time you can’t say there is a new opportunity in life. Some people get focused on what they are doing and are afraid to change. When you look at leaders like that, it renews your interest and belief that anything is possible at any time in life.