Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Marc Ferraro grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ and still lives there, but commutes 120 miles to Annville, Penn. to serve as rank of Colonel in the Army where he works during the week. Marc earned a bachelor of science in accounting and business administration and a master of arts in strategic studies and following, spent three years working as an analyst for a major defense contractor. For the past 31 years, Marc has served in the Army and has held numerous leadership positions, has had three combat tours in Panama, Kosovo and Iraq, and has managed budgets in excess of $850 million. But Marc’s long-time experience in the restaurant industry from when he was a kid and a college student was an experience that stuck with him, and one pointing him to Philly Pretzel Factory.
How did you learn about the brand?
Philly Pretzel Factory locations are all over in the Jersey area where I live. One day, four military partners (four in the Army, one in the Air Force) and I were talking about how good it would be to open a pretzel location in the Lebanon area. Most of us are from Philadelphia, so the prominence of this food item is definitely part of what we know.
Why did you choose an opportunity with Philly Pretzel Factory (PPF)?
We looked at a couple options such as Annie Ann’s, but we decided to go with PPF because of the name, how they are stand-alone locations versus a mall concept, and the fact we’re from the Philly area. People identify with the brand, so we already have that to go off of. We also thought the structure of the company was real strong. In Philly or South Jersey, the pretzel is perceived as an actual meal in many cases, but where we’ll be opening, it’s a popular food currently considered a snack, so it’s an interesting culture we’re going to be offering. The brand is also veteran-friendly as they offer a franchise fee discount of 50 percent off.
Are you involved with any charities or do any community outreach with your business?
We intend to. We’re looking to donate a portion of profits to Wounded Warrior programs, and we also intend to have a workforce comprised of 80 percent veterans or family of veterans currently serving.
How have you utilized your Army leadership tactics to the benefit of PPF?
In the Army, you not only have to display leadership but need to be able to organize well, plan accordingly and execute. When it comes to running a business, your business is the people, so it’s important to have strong relationships.
What challenges have you overcome to get where you are now?
Budget is budget. You have to be able to manage a budget whether it’s an Army budget or a PPF budget. But as things change, you have to be able to remain flexible. Luckily, three of the partners I’m with have other businesses, one has a hotel business and the other is a beer distributor, so we can utilize their combined leadership skills as well.
What are your expansion or development plans? What is your end goal with PPF?
We want to have a successful business that caters to the community and gets fully involved. From a mission statement, wherever we open a store, we want to be part of the community. Secondly, our goal is to have four to five stores and we’ll consider different locations, such as in department stores, amusement parks, and Hershey Park, which is 10 minutes from where we are. We’re also considering the PPF kiosk operation especially since the Lebanon, Hershey, and Carlisle area is only 30-45 minutes from each other. We may also look into Myrtle Beach at some point.