Thank You For Allowing Me To Serve
I’ve had the honor of serving the franchise community for 30 years, mostly with the Southern California FOA and more recently as a vice chairman of the National Coalition. Over this time I’ve had the privilege of working with and befriending some of the most hardworking and devoted franchisees in the system. I’ve seen a lot of good times in 7-Eleven, and helped out as much as I could when we hit the rough patches. Now, at age 82, it’s time for me to hang my hat, to move to the backseat and enjoy the view.
I first took an active role in helping the franchise community in 1982, when I joined the Board of the Southern California FOA. I served in many capacities, including as chairman of the scholarship committee. Then about ten years ago Joe Saraceno asked me to run and become his vice president. When Joe passed away, I was voted in as president of the association.
I’ve done my best to help the franchise community over the years, especially locally. When I became president of the Southern California FOA, I reached out to the other associations in my area—the FOA of Greater Los Angeles, the San Diego FOA, and later the Joe Saraceno FOA after they had formed—to coordinate meetings with each other and SEI management to resolve franchisee issues. The four FOA presidents and officers would meet occasionally to strategize, and we would even attend each FOA’s events—trade shows, Holiday parties, and the like. The unity was good for all of us. Working together as a unit, communicating and sharing information, I consider that a breakthrough.
It is precisely that type of relationship SEI should strive harder to achieve with franchisees. At the end of the day, the franchisees are working hard to increase sales and gross profits. If franchisees are successful, then the company is successful. I think SEI management needs to talk more openly with franchisees and accept our input. We are partners in this system, after all. Being on the front lines, franchisees know what we need to satisfy our customers’ needs and to move our business forward. Open communication will be one key to our continued success.
As a Board member of the National Coalition and as a vice chairman, I tried to advance the needs of the franchise community and to strengthen our position within the 7-Eleven universe. It wasn’t always easy, but I like to think I’ve helped move the franchise community forward.
Now that I’m out of the picture, I will continue to attend my local FOA meetings as a franchisee. I wish our new president Nick Bhuller the best of luck. If they need my advice, I will give it. I will miss the National Coalition because I have made many friends as a member. In the National Coalition there hasn’t been a president who hasn’t been courteous to me. They all call me Mr. D, and I’ve had that nickname for so long I’ve forgotten that my first name is Karam. I have close relationships with many vendors. Several vendors have even sent me nice e-mails once word got out that I was stepping down, and I appreciate it.
I’m not walking away from the franchise community. I’ve had a great time and will continue to have a great time. I hope to continue to attend National Coalition meetings. I know I will be welcomed by whomever the chairman is. I will sit in the back and learn new things. I’ll be the elder statesman, but don’t call me that because I’m not that old yet. I think I still have about 15 years left in me. I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve been doing what I love what I do.
Thank you again for allowing me to serve. It’s been a great ride.