Fred DeLuca, the co-founder of the franchise giant Subway, died at 67 on Monday, the company sadly has confirmed.
His death comes just weeks after the 50th anniversary of Subway, which is known for its footlong sandwiches and has more than 44,000 locations around the world. DeLuca opened the sandwich restaurant 50 years ago with a business partner when he was a mere 17 years old. It rapidly grew from there and now is the nation's biggest chain by units and third biggest by sales.
DeLuca had been fighting leukemia since 2013 and recently named his sister Suzanne Greco as president to run day-to-day operations for the sandwich heavyweight.
Melanie Bergeron, chairwoman of the International Franchise Association and the chair of TWO MEN AND TRUCK
, told 1851 that DeLuca stood tall in the franchising world.
"This is a sad day for the franchising community," she said. "Fred DeLuca was an icon in franchising. He is such a testament to living the American dream though the franchise business model. He was an immigrant, started a sandwich shop at the age of 17 and grew it to the largest fast-food chain in the world. The other factor that made him special to me was that he was approachable to all. He attended many IFA meetings and events. ... He would speak with anyone, anytime. He loved franchising and loved to talk about it. He will be dearly missed by all."
David McDougall, chief executive officer at Back Yard Burgers
, said he is impressed by what DeLuca accomplished.
"He certainly took franchising to another level at Subway. I had interviewed with Fred a number of years ago for an ops position. More recently,I had spent time with him in 2013 at the IFA convention. I did not know him well, but I have always been impressed by his achievements."
Scott Gittrich, founder and CEO of Toppers Pizza, met DeLuca about 10 years ago at a franchise industry event and was impressed by how approachable the sandwich king was.
"I frankly don’t remember what we talked about," he said. "What I do remember is that we did talk; that a restaurant and franchising pioneer and icon was both talking to me and listening to me. ... He was humble and generous with me that day and because of that lifted me up. In this day and age of populous class warfare, where certain people want to paint successful business people like Mr. DeLuca as only self-interested, I for one can say that I am convinced that he was a generous man whose success paved the way for thousands of successful business people around the world. ... Today I celebrate the life and work of a restaurant franchising hero.
MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes founder and CEO Rich Hicks said he has a great deal of respect for what DeLuca did.
“The Subway development has been staggering," he said. "He has left an indelible mark on the franchise restaurant industry, and many of us hoping to achieve the same success of Subway have learned a lot from the legacy he leaves behind. He’s truly a pioneer in the franchise world and the impact of his work will be felt for years and years to come. We certainly lost an incredible leader in our industry.”
The theme of DeLuca's humble personality and approachable nature is echoed by Dan DiZio, CEO and co-founder of the Philly Pretzel Factory
"I met Fred at the IFE show in New York when he stopped by and visited our booth," he said. "I was impressed with how humble he was considering his incredible success. He spent about a half an hour with me talking to me about the concept and was very complimentary about my brand. I was even more impressed that within two weeks after meeting him, he was in my office in Philadelphia for a two-hour meeting talking about franchising. Fred is a legend in franchising I learned a tremendous amount from him in our short time together."
Read the original story here: LAT