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How Sylvan Learning Franchisees Grow to Love the Brand More Each Year

Sylvan Learning franchisees come for different reasons, but build a strong connection with the brand and stay for decades.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 9:09AM 10/16/18

Sylvan Learning, the nation’s original supplemental education provider and largest supplier of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education across America, has built a history of nearly 40 years of experience at more than 750 points of presence owned by 469 dedicated franchisees. In fact, Sylvan has 478 centers that have been open for more than a decade.

Each franchisee begins his or her own path of business ownership for different reasons, but as time passes, they each fall in love with the company’s culture, corporate support, franchise network and communities they serve. compiled a few stories of Sylvan’s longstanding franchisees and their connections to the brand they love to represent where they live and work.

Meredith Freeman – North Carolina Triad

Meredith Freeman has been a Sylvan Learning franchisee for ten years. Although Freeman purchased her first franchise in 2008, she began working for the brand in 2001 while living in Florida.

“I was working at a Sylvan Learning center when I contemplated going back to school. Shortly after I began, I fell in love with the role that supplemental education plays in so many childrens’ lives,” Freeman said. “I realized that I could be part of the academic world in a unique way.”

After seven years of teaching at Sylvan, Freeman moved back to her home state of North Carolina where she managed the Burlington center before becoming the owner. She then purchased a second location in Greensboro and third in Winston-Salem.

As Freeman reflects on when she bought her first center, she says she wished that she could have cautiously told herself that everything will be okay instead of spending so much time worrying about different issues that popped up. She comments that the feeling of uncertainty is what ultimately drove her to become successful.

“When you first purchase a business, it’s a big deal. I had to refinance my mortgage, which in hindsight forces good pressure on you. It’s definitely worth the risk,” Freeman said.

Lesley Mitchell – Greater Calgary

Lesley Mitchell began her career with Sylvan Learning as a center director in 2006 before purchasing her first franchise two years later. Mitchell was a single-unit operator until 2015 when she purchased another territory, with a total of three centers open by the end of 2016.

Mitchell said that the transition from employee to business owner took time, but it has also been extremely rewarding.

“It’s a very different mindset working on the business rather than in the business, which is what I was always used to. It takes time to grow,” she explained.

Mitchell comments that owning a Sylvan was also the right fit for her family, providing her with flexibility to be both a business owner and a mom.

“It was a great fit for us due to the flexibility the business provides. My two children ended up going to Sylvan; I have a passion for Sylvan,” Mitchell said.

Sal Cusanza – Southern Lousiana

Sal Cusanza has been a franchisee with Sylvan Learning for 20 years. He purchased his first location in 1998 and he now owns seven locations in four territories.

Cusanza raised a child with educational disabilities, so his personal experience with supplemental education helped him to believe in the power of Sylvan. Cusanza was also drawn to the brand because of the great business model and the strong connections that franchisees are able to establish in their communities.

“Educational resources are always needed for students in the community,” Cusanza said. “It’s great to get to know the parents and see children leave the center after learning something new and feeling a sense of accomplishment.”

Reflecting on when he was first starting out with the brand, Cusanza would have told himself to expect the unexpected. He says that there is actually a lot of variety in what franchisees do and a franchisee has to be ready for anything.

“I didn’t realize I would be the expert on certain things at the center. For example, I was the computer expert at one of the centers.”

Even with 20 years under his belt, Cusanza’s future with Sylvan looks bright. He plans to open a few more satellite locations and prepare to transition his daughter and son-in-law into ownership as he retires.

“It’s a five-year plan so I have more time,” Cusanza joked.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.