Creating a Legacy to Withstand Generations of Change
Creating a Legacy to Withstand Generations of Change

Papa Murphy’s franchisee Shannon Seaford shares her family’s 20-year history with the brand

In the mid-1980’s, Richard and Sharon McDonald were looking for an opportunity to set their children up with a financially stable future. Richard felt his father had missed an opportunity, as he did not grow his own business enough to create a legacy that could be passed down from generation to generation. Richard realized he needed a plan to develop a growing business if he did not want history to repeat itself.

The McDonalds took an interest in take-and-bake pizza concept Papa Aldo’s, prior to the brand’s merger with Murphy’s Pizza. At the time, they were unsure whether to take what they felt was a financial risk and purchase a franchise, but the idea was planted. More than 10 years later, Sharon’s brother was in Vancouver, Wash. for a job interview at the recently named Papa Murphy’s corporate office when he reopened the conversation.

“He was blown away by the new structure and support provided by the corporate team. My uncle immediately called my parents and said it was time for them to reconsider an agreement,” recalled Shannon Seaford, Richard and Sharon McDonald’s daughter.

So, in their 50’s, the McDonald’s finally purchased their first franchise in Wenatchee, Washington—a location that still remains a consistently high performing store in Papa Murphy’s 1,500+ unit franchise system today. Seaford has since taken over the McDonalds’ first two locations and expanded, growing their family’s multi-unit franchise to six locations.

As a single mother, Shannon helped remodel and design shops from the ground up, essentially raising her kids in her Papa Murphy’s locations, staying focused to help drive their success. Because of this dedication, she received the prestigious Owner-Operator of the Year Award in 2014—the first woman in the history of the brand to be recognized with this honor.

“It was a huge awakening for me and my family and to this day, one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Seaford. “This business was built on the shoulders of my parents, my brother and myself. I think back to the day my dad said he wanted this to be a legacy, and this was proof that his dream was becoming a reality.”

To carry this legacy on, Seaford hopes her children will one day choose to run these locations.

“For us to maintain ownership of these stores over the years, my direct involvement every day was a vital component. It’s going to take someone who knows what a huge investment our family has made over 20 years with the brand and 20 years down the line to continue their success,” said Seaford. “My kids grew up in this store taking naps in the back room. Of all people, they understand how much work this is. I can only hope the passion that I have for my job will be passed down to them.”

However, it’s not just passion and commitment that leads to success. According to Seaford, it also takes pride: in your work, in the brand you represent, and in yourself, to inspire and create an atmosphere that people want to be a part of.

“I love walking around with my Papa Murphy’s shirt on,” said Seaford. “I love walking into my stores and becoming a mentor for the kids that I hire to join our growing team. We work in a challenging, fast-paced environment, but I come in with a smile on my face every day to motivate my employees and welcome my customers.”

Seaford’s family’s story, dedication, and history with Papa Murphy’s is just one example of the multitude of franchisees in the system who have celebrated long-term success with the 35-year-old pizza concept.

"My parents bought their first Papa Murphy's in 1996 to create a legacy that would provide financial stability for their children,” Seaford said. “20 years later, I'm getting ready to pass six locations and even stronger financial stability down to my own children. We're a successful family business with a family-focused brand."