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Mike Treadwell owns and operates 89 KFCs, Taco Bells and Ruby Tuesdays in eight states. At 62, he has no plans of slowing.
Mike Treadwell owns and operates 89 KFCs, Taco Bells and Ruby Tuesdays in eight states. At 62, he has no plans of slowing.

Business Spotlight: The Colonel Says Location is King

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A trick to overcoming the recession is being in the right place, at the right time, with the right staff.

“But it’s not luck,” says Mike Treadwell, chairman, president and CEO of Treadwell Enterprises Restaurant Management. “I like to call it smart business planning.”

Treadwell Enterprises owns and operates 90 restaurant establishments – 84 KFCs, three Taco Bells, three Ruby Tuesdays – in eight states. The restaurant management company – a $90 million enterprise in 2009 – buys or builds the location and hires the managers and associates, Treadwell says. Though the company’s headquarters is at 4200 S. Quail Creek Ave., none of its holdings is in the Springfield area.

Treadwell emphasizes location scouting when talking about success in the restaurant business.

“Ultimately, it roots back to the locations that we select,” he says. “We went into Louisiana and bought 15 stores. Well, that’s where they hit one of the largest gas-producing areas in the United States. We went into Oklahoma, and there was an oil boom. We went to Alabama, our latest acquisition, and they’re doing very well. New York, it’s just an under-penetrated market up there, so we’ve had extremely high volumes.”

Sam Hamra, owner and operator of Hamra Enterprises, which owns 75 Wendy’s and Panera Bread establishments in Missouri, Illinois and Massachusetts, agrees with Treadwell in that location is possibly the largest factor contributing to a restaurant’s success.

“Location is immensely important,” Hamra says, citing accessibility, visibility, traffic counts and generous city zoning ordinances. “Parking is also a very important factor, being located near
stoplights and having the ability to make a left turn into your site and out of your site.”

Treadwell, with more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, started with Fowler Foods managing KFCs in Arkansas. He later worked for KFC Corp., then joined Restaurant Systems in Springfield about 15 years ago. At the time, Restaurant Systems owned 60 KFC stores.

Treadwell bought out Restaurant Systems owner Dick Pendleton nearly 10 years ago, and now Treadwell Enterprises owns franchise territories in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio and New York.

About three years ago, Treadwell sold his KFC rights in the Springfield and Joplin markets to Table Rock Restaurants for an undisclosed price.

“Actually, I sold 36 stores thinking I might get out of the business. Instead, I realized it was kind of my passion, and I bought 16 more in different areas,” he says.

In addition to the location factor in success, Treadwell credits his staff, which he says has an average tenure of 10 to 15 years.

“We have a lot of depth in this company. The trick to it is having the right people,” he says.
Treadwell says training is key to setting up people for success, and open-book management is practiced among the management staff.

Michele Bassett, Treadwell’s administrative assistant, is a 10-year employee. She says one of Treadwell’s strong suits is putting the right people in the right places.

“Mike (Treadwell) is so good at getting the best people,” Bassett says. “When you’ve got a good group of people, not only inside our office, but all of our market coaches in the field – they’re great – we can work together. It just makes it worth going to work in the morning.”

Treadwell says, with the economic downturn, the company has seen a bigger hit in Ruby Tuesdays, but has maintained its sales compared to last year.

“Our KFCs have been up, though. We’ve had three years of double-digit sales increases and have been very fortunate our KFC and Taco Bell business has done very well,” Treadwell says.

“Overall, casual dining has suffered more than fast food. In a tough economy, everybody drops down a notch. That’s why fast food, in most instances, has done so well during the downturn.”

Company officials are currently scouting out new markets for KFC and Ruby Tuesdays, and the 62-year-old Treadwell says he has no plans of slowing.

In fact, he’s jumping into a construction project that will move the company’s office by mid-October to 3850 W. Battlefield Road. Treadwell Enterprises acquired the building out of
foreclosure for an undisclosed amount. Royal Construction is general contractor for the $300,000 renovations designed by Buddy Webb & Co.

“I’m having more fun than I ever had,” Treadwell says.[[In-content Ad]]

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