For nearly four decades, Kahala BrandsTM has been growing some of the most well-known brands in foodservice franchising. Today, the management group supports 28 franchise brands, which include The Counter® Custom Built Burgers, Cold Stone Creamery® and Baja Fresh®.
Nicole Rayborn is Kahala Brands’ VP of Franchise Development. Rayborn has been with Kahala Brands for more than half of the management group’s history, starting in 1995 as a franchise liaison. Rayborn has worked with Kahala Brands through more than 20 business acquisitions and helped each of its businesses expand in markets throughout North America.
We talked to Rayborn to learn more about her work and why she loves Kahala Brands.
What were you doing before you found Kahala Brands?
Before working with Kahala Brands, I was an assistant property manager for GTE Mobilnet in Northern California.
Did that experience prepare you for your work at Kahala Brands?
During my time with GTE, I had a great mentor who taught me the benefits of doing exactly what you say you are going to do; in the timeframe you say you will do it, in a professional and efficient manner. I learned the art of balancing my work with different teams; in that case, property owners and corporate executives, whose agendas and goals often did not align. I learned how to negotiate, find common ground, and work with both parties to strike deals.
How did you learn about Kahala Brands?
In 1995, the day after returning from our honeymoon, my husband and I packed our belongings and drove to Scottsdale for a new adventure. I answered an ad in the paper for a franchise liaison position with a small juice bar company. That was Surf City Squeeze®, which would grow into Kahala Brands.
When did that go from being a job to a career?
I knew the minute I walked in the building that it was the place I wanted to work. At the time, they only had six employees and eight franchised locations. The vibe in the office was all about taking care of the franchisees and growing the brand in a family-friendly, fun and exciting environment. It wasn’t long before I was traveling four to five days a week, all throughout the country, and working on the development side of the business. It was a baptism-by-fire mentality, and I loved the energy for growth and expansion throughout the company. Of course, since then, I’ve been blessed to work with amazing franchisees and co-workers, and I have seen the company grow through more than 20 acquisitions.
What do you love about franchising?
Since my first day with Kahala Brands, I’ve believed in the franchise model. We grew very quickly in the first several years, and I was always so impressed by the franchisees, who work extremely hard and closely follow a proven model. Most of them are just as eager to grow as we are and take on new locations as soon as they’re able. Providing franchisees the opportunity to work hard for themselves by doing something they love in a business that they believe in is very rewarding.
What has kept you with Kahala Brands for more than twenty years?
During my formative years, I had complete respect for my dad, and I watched him work for one company his entire career until he was forced to retire due to health reasons. I am grateful to have had a similar experience with Kahala Brands throughout my 23-plus years of employment. Throughout the years, Kahala Brands has blessed me with the opportunity to work with fellow employees and a growing group of franchisees who have a passion for the business, exemplify excellent work ethic and challenge each other daily. The culture at Kahala Brands is one of dedication and commitment to a common goal. Each acquisition has contributed to a strong dynamic within the company with a wide array of franchise options.
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