I've aspired to be a successful business owner since childhood. Growing up as the youngest of four boys in the rural Ozarks of Arkansas, I learned the value of hard work and determination from watching my parents make a living in farming and manufacturing.
Despite having little formal education, they provided my brothers and me with the best care possible. While we may have not had much economically, including no running water in my early years, I believe that coming from such a humble environment has positively impacted my life. Channeling my mom and dad's work ethic as a foundation, I knew if I wanted to succeed, it was up to me to chart my course.
At 14, I began working as a dishwasher in a restaurant, climbing my way up the ranks through high school. My love for customer service inspired my passion for the restaurant industry. I was the first person in my family to attend college, which I attribute to my parents and the confidence they instilled in me. At the time, through determination and discipline, I was attending school full time while working over 40 hours a week managing a local fast food restaurant.
After graduating, I accepted a position as a franchise business consultant. For the next 20 years, I worked with companies like Dairy Queen, IHOP and Papa Murphy's Pizza, supporting their franchisees. It was an integral part of my development in the industry and has helped me acquire an arsenal of skills, but I still felt that I needed more. So, I decided to go back to school and get my master's in business administration. It wasn't a simple decision, but I knew I could achieve my goals regardless of my fear and doubt.
In 2009, after 20 years in the restaurant franchising industry, Firehouse Subs approached me with the vision of developing the brand's presence in the Utah area. They asked if I would take on the role of area representative. At the time, I didn't know much about Firehouse Subs, so my wife Connie and I spent some time visiting different locations, trying to discover what it was all about.
It didn't take us long to realize this was a brand we could believe in. We immediately connected with the founding family's firefighter heritage, the distinct quality and hearty flavor of the food, and the sincerity with which the brand serves communities through its non-profit, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The food alone was enough to convince us, but the foundation made us fall in love. Its mission to fund first responders resonated with us and made it easy for me to accept the offer.
In 2011, two years after the offer, Connie and I opened our first restaurant in Midvale, Utah and have only looked back to see how far we've come.
Since joining the Firehouse Subs team, I have had many opportunities to support and serve my local communities. Not only have I been able to use my own experiences to help and guide new restaurant owners, but I have helped the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in donating more than $545,000 worth of life-saving equipment grants to Utah and Idaho first responders and public safety organizations.
I can't wait to see the progress we'll continue to make, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the future takes Firehouse Subs. Because of the restaurant industry, I have created a path where I can hone my skills and leverage my love for customer service.
Despite my successes, at my core, I am still that young boy living in the Ozarks with big dreams. I hope I can help as many people along the way in seeing that no matter where you come from, success is attainable. It probably won't be easy, and seldom will be fast; but with determination, it can happen.
About the author: Randy Judd is the area representative for Firehouse Subs in the Utah and Idaho markets, as well as a franchisee.