As Big Blue Swim School kicks off its strategic growth plan to grow to 150 locations by 2020, CEO Chris Kenny and Founder and President Chris DeJong have hired former PepsiCo exec Brooke Mallick and franchise industry veteran Justin Waltz to lead marketing and operations, respectively.
After writing her business school essay about wanting to work as a brand manager for Gatorade, avid runner Mallick achieved her dream and spent six years working at PepsiCo. She was on the Gatorade team for five years, and was able to leverage another passion, plant-based eating, in her work on the Global Innovation team, including the launch of the Quaker® oat milk product. Mallick joined the Big Blue Swim School team in January 2019.
“Big Blue Swim School stood out to me because of its focus on being part of life’s big moments. For me personally, this was the perfect opportunity to chase a new and different dream,” said Mallick, adding that she plans to translate her learnings from working with iconic, well-known brands into growing an emerging brand into something just as beloved. “It’s not just about teaching a vital safety skill but it’s about truly helping kids build their confidence and self-esteem. By setting goals and understanding what they need to do and achieve them, Big Blue Swim School gives children and families a sense of security around water, and builds great lifelong skills.”
Justin Waltz brings experience in various aspects of franchising to his role as VP of Operations at Big Blue Swim School. He started his career working for a 1-800-Got-Junk? franchise as a front-line team member before being promoted to operations manager, then general manager. He became interested in opening his own franchise, and during his search for the perfect opportunity, he came across College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving, and went to work for the corporate office as Senior Manager of Franchise Operations. After five years there, he served as VP of Operations for Premium Service Brands before joining Big Blue Swim School in March 2019.
“I have been lucky to be a franchising ‘triple threat’ and understand operations from all sides, from working for a franchisor to becoming a franchisee of both College H.U.N.K.S. and Handyman Connection to working on the corporate side in support of the franchisees,” said Waltz. “Big Blue Swim School is an opportunity for me to expand my knowledge about franchising into a higher investment category, and the Lesson Buddy platform will be a key factor in our growth. To have a franchise system in the emerging category with such a robust technology platform is incredibly rare.”
Kenny is eager to see the impact that Mallick and Waltz will make on the brand’s growth.
“Big Blue Swim School is positioned to be the dominant player in the category, and we expect Brooke and Justin to develop strong marketing and operations programs for our franchise partners as we grow the brand,” said Kenny. “The goal of every person on our corporate team is to provide hands-on support to our franchise partners to get them to profitability more quickly so they can open more locations and we can provide families across the country with such a valuable life experience.”