Franchise Fun: Don Fox, Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox talks bringing the first-responder-inspired brand to Canada

Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox is a 44-year veteran of the food service industry. Describing himself as curious, empathetic, and committed, he and the Firehouse Subs brand saw fertile ground in Canada and the nation’s lucrative and growing QSR sector. That’s why in 2015, Firehouse Subs opened their first series of Canadian franchise locations throughout Ontario. Firehouse Subs specializes in hearty and flavourful hot sub sandwiches, served by committed team members who have a flair for heartfelt service. The brand was founded by two firefighter brothers, Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen; inspired by the selflessness of first responders, their greatest source of pride is the manner in which the brand gives back to their communities by donating life-saving equipment to public safety entities. Read on to learn more about Fox, who’s looking to open doors for Canadian entrepreneurs across the country with the Firehouse Subs brand.

The most interesting thing I’ve done recently is…

Examining the generational use of the Firehouse Subs brand, to better understand how our business will evolve over the next five to ten years.

In its best form, work is…

Fun, interesting, fruitful, and enhances personal development.

A good franchisee…

Recognizes the unique nature of the franchise business model, and is as committed to the success of the brand as they are their own personal success. They understand that they cannot be successful if their franchisor is not successful.

My top advice for prospective franchisees and new franchisors is… To understand what is TRULY required in order to achieve success within a brand. If you are not willing to embrace the culture of the brand, and be committed to the “playbook”, then franchising is not for you.

My top advice for new franchisors is to make sure your business model is actually well suited for franchising; this should be done predominately by operating company units yourself, and thus developing and demonstrating operational expertise while demonstrating a thorough understanding of unit economics.

The most important thing in life is… Adding value. Even if in the smallest ways, leave a positive imprint on the world and those you come in contact with on your journey.

One of the most enjoyable things to do is…

See those whom you have coached and trained succeed in their own endeavors.

The hardest thing for me to do is…

To say “no”.

My favourite drink is…

Ice-cold water after working up a good sweat! My favourite drink I like to see others enjoy is any one of the 120+ brands available in our Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.

If I could change one thing…

It would be to drink a lot more ice-cold water.

If I could meet anyone…

It would be Major General John S. Wood, commanding officer of the United States Army Fourth Armored Division.

The person who has had the most positive influence on me as a businessperson is…

Ed Jarnagin, who was a district manager I reported to as a young general manager with Burger King. Ed taught me the value of supporting your team, especially when it requires selflessness.

Canadian franchising is…

A great opportunity, and fertile ground for bringing exciting new brands to the country.

My franchise system began because…

Our founders felt that the best way to grow the Firehouse Subs brand was by unleashing the power of entrepreneurship.

The most positive influence on my life as a person is…

My children. They serve as a constant reminder to be a positive role model.

The key to success is…

Being passionate about what you do.

I’d like my friends to describe me as…

A genuinely nice person, who always treats people with fairness and generosity.

The accomplishment I look forward to the most is…

Being an empty nester and already seeing my children become independent and successful in their own right, the accomplishment I look forward to the most is growing the Firehouse brand into a $1B+ system.

My personal motto is…

We will be judged by our deeds alone.