Executive Connection – The Executive Newsletter from Wray Executive Search

Executive Connection: September 2014

Wray Newsletter Masthead
September 2014  Issue 155
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Diversity and Inclusion – drive it for success

by Bob Gershberg, CEO & Managing Partner,
Wray Executive Search

Bob Gershberg, CEO & Managing Partner Wray Executive Search
Bob Gershberg

The drive for diversity and inclusion may have taken a bit of a back seat during recent recessionary times as hiring slowed down in general. I am happy to report that as companies have taken the “foot off the brake,” they are also back to emphasizing the need for diverse leadership and management teams. Diversity recruitment is again one of the hottest topics in corporate America.  Full Article » 

Financial Edge

Getting back to work: Q4 2014

by David Ulrich, EVP Wray Executive Search

David Ulrich

Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of Fall and the end of Summer for many in the US. It’s a critical time for many businesses across all industries as people refocus their attention to work, school, and other activities that don’t involve vacationing. For much of 2014, the economic environment has been steadily improving, employment has been rising along with home values, so the end of Q3 going into Q4 should be very strong throughout the country. Wall Street has been holding steady on its highs, and though August’s employment figure was a bit tepid, the underlying current has been rather strong.   Full Article » 


Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dies at Age 93

Truett Cathy

Atlanta, GA (RestaurantNews.com) In a message sent to employees today, Chick-fil-A®announced that its founder and chairman emeritus, S. Truett Cathy, died at 1:35 a.m. Monday at the age of 93. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.  Full Article » 

Executive Movements
Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Appoints Frank G. Paci As President and Chief Executive Officer.

Full Article »

ThinkFoodGroup names Kimberly Grant new CEO. Prior to joining TFG, she served as COO and President of Ruby Tuesday. Full Article »

McDonald’s Taps Former Executive to Turn Around U.S. Sales. Mike Andres, Previously Head of Boston Market, Will Be Third Division Leader in Two Years  Full Article »

Newk’s Eatery brand has hired franchise development veteran Chris Cheek to oversee the company’s aggressive growth both through new, seasoned multi-unit franchise operators and through expanded area development agreements with existing Newk’s franchisees.(Another Stellar Wray Search Placement) Full Article »
James Greco Joins Rapidly Expanding Newk’s Eatery. Industry veteran will support the company’s development, and will oversee franchise and company operations. Full Article »

Umami Restaurant Group, the company that runs the Umami Burger chain and is a partner of 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, announced Monday that Paul E. Clayton will take over as its new chief executive officer.
 Full Article »

On The Border names new president Ward Whitworth will replace Steve Clark, who is stepping down from the position. Full Article »

Ovation® Brands Names Robert Crews As SVP Of Marketing, Strengthens Executive Team To Further Brand Reinvention. Full Article »

More Executive Movements »
Financial Overview


Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., reported financial results for the 12 weeks ended July 13, 2014.   Full Article »



Yum! Brands Reports Second-Quarter EPS Growth of 30% Excluding Special Items. Full Article »



Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Second Quarter 2014 Revenues Up 28.6%.  Full Article »



El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. Second Quarter 2014 Total Revenue Increased 6.3%.  Full Article »



Domino’s Pizza, Inc. announced results for the second quarter of 2014, comprised of strong growth in both same store sales and global store counts, which resulted in 17.5% EPS growth.  Full Article »



Darden Restaurants Reports Fourth Quarter And Fiscal Year Diluted Net Earnings Per Share And Declares Its Quarterly Dividend.  Full Article »


More Financial News »


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“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” – Steven Wright
Executive Chat Featuring Ron Biskin, CEO of Pizza Studio

by Rebecca Patt, Vice President of Development, Wray Executive Search
Rebecca Patt


Ron Biskin, an industry veteran who has been a key player in concepts including Native Foods, Wolfgang Puck Express, Baja Fresh, Burger King, and TGI Friday’s, is building his masterpiece with the artful fast-casual venture Pizza Studio, in collaborating with the concept’s founder Samit Varma.

How did you get involved with Pizza Studio? Samit’s background is that he grew up on the East Coast, went to school at the Naval Academy and served in US Navy as officer on nuclear sub, in the Navy for eight years. He then went to grad school at USC and joined a venture capital firm in Santa Monica. I was introduced to him through a mutual friend who said there was a guy was looking for someone to partner with him on new restaurant concept. Growing up, Samit came from a big family, and once a week his mom would let the kids make pizza with all sorts of creative toppings, and it stuck with him how much he enjoyed those family nights of pizza creation. Seeing the success of Chipotle, he thought he could do something similar with pizza, and he started developing the idea back in 2012.  Full Article »

The Big Apple

The Evolution of Hotel Dining

by Joe Radice, Vice President, Wray Executive Search

Joe Radice

There was a time not so very long ago, when going out to dinner meant eating in a fancy restaurant where the cuisine of choice was referred to as “continental”. Where better to celebrate that special occasion or entertain guests than the relaxed, yet formal atmosphere of the hotel dining room. Hotels, as institutions, were perfect venues for replicating the popular food of the time. Then, fast forward to the late 90’s, when the price of real estate was escalating, baby boomers began discovering their taste buds, and chefs were becoming celebrities, all of which contributed to the emergence of the free-standing restaurant. Hotel food and beverage operations had historically been loss leaders or, at best, guest amenities. Now, hotel owners demanded a greater ROI. The boomers, feeling flush in a growing economy, demanded flavors to satisfy their newly found palates. And creative chefs demanded their independence, now realizing that they could find their own investors to build their restaurants.   Full Article » 

Culture Matters

Human Asset Due Diligence

by Tom Rollert, Vice President of Culture Integration, Wray Executive Search

Tom Rollert

Most companies do a thorough job of financial due diligence when they acquire other companies. But all too often, deal makers simply ignore or underestimate the significance of people issues in mergers and acquisitions. The consequences are severe. Most obviously, there’s a high degree of talent loss after a deal’s announcement. To make matters worse, differences in decision-making styles lead to infighting; integration stalls; and guests suffer.   Full Article » 

A few of this month’s opportunities »
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