Philip Schram, chief development officer at Buffalo Wings & Rings, has had entrepreneurial dreams since childhood, having grown up learning about the great success of the company owned by his grandfather in Italy.
The train-track repair company was built from the ground up and employed more than 500 people before it was tragically destroyed one night in 1944 during allied bombing. Because of the way his family talked about his grandfather’s success, the young Schram dreamed about owning his own company that would reach the same level of success.
Schram, who was born in France, did everything he could to put himself on the path to business ownership, including joining the entrepreneur association in college and, after graduation, he looked into buying a business. But he ran into many roadblocks and people who tried to discourage him.
In 1999, his employer in France wanted to send him to the United States, and with the steadfast support of his wife, the two decided to make the move, hoping this was the path that would lead to the perfect business opportunity.
“It took me a little while to get my green card, but I always had my eye out,” said Schram. “In 2000, I met Nader (Masadeh, now the president and CEO at BW&R). Immediately, we worked very well together at Ford. After getting my green card, we started looking for a business to acquire. I knew after working with him for a short while that we would go into business together. We bring very different talents and experience to the table, but we both had the same vision.”
1851 Franchise talked to Schram about his success and what motivates him daily. The following is an edited transcript:
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
“It’s simple, but so relevant. I think we are all truly driven by our willingness to get things done. I left my home in France with 50 bucks in my pocket. I wasn’t necessarily set up for success, but I really wanted it. Having started with pretty much nothing, I think I’m also a lot more appreciative of my success today.”
“I know it’s not money that motivates me, it’s sharing the wealth. I’ve always been drawn to big projects that challenge me, and owning a business does that for me every day, so that’s what keeps me interested. I always want to keep solving problems and making things better so that I can continue to share success with others who have embarked on this journey with me.
“With Buffalo Wings & Rings, 90 percent of all the products we use within our operations are made domestically in the United States. We are creating thousands of jobs in North America. We are very generous with our franchise partners and are happy to see them succeed. To me, this is the best way for me to give back to a country that has been so welcoming to me and provided me with the opportunity to build my dream.”
“Aside from my family history with success in business, I am addicted to reading business books. I love reading about the different perspectives and methods of other successful entrepreneurs. Reading books about successful people and successful businesses is my favorite pastime. I’ve read everything by Jim Collins and I recommend his work to others. Of course I also like to share — I published a book myself entitled ‘Le Zèbre.’ which dives into one of my other great passions, that of vintage cars. My other passion is trains, a love that I share with my grandfather who built the track repair company.”
“I am what some people would call a workaholic. I love working. I take my time in the morning, but do some work at home when I can be with my own thoughts before I head into the office. At night I like to get work done while watching TV or a movie. I find that I can get a lot of work done at night when it is quiet. In my day to day, I try whenever I can to walk into someone’s office or talk to them on the phone rather than communicating via email. I am very emotionally connected to the business and the communication aspect is incredibly important to me. I don’t enjoy long periods of time alone in front of my computer; I prefer to be in the field with the people who are making our business great every day.”
“Family support in my opinion is crucial to success in business. I am extremely appreciative of my wife’s support; she doesn’t make me question the decisions I make, but supports my confidence and helps me to think objectively about decisions that will affect the business and our lives. My other key support has been my business partners. It’s a pivotal point for any business when partners come together who truly trust and respect each other. My partners and I don’t have all the same skills or experience, but we share a common vision and we know we never have to question each other’s motivations.”
Schram says it’s important to continually re-evaluate oneself and be in touch with your true north. If you don’t know what’s driving you each day and what will help you maintain productivity, success will be a struggle. When you’re appreciative of the success you’ve had and in tune with your true purpose, success will continue to build.