Establishments: More than 150 East Coast-style sub sandwich shops in six states
Headquarters: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
What She’s Done: Named president and COO in 2008 of the submarine sandwich company her father, Bill Specht, co-founded in 1972, Christine Specht has successfully walked the fine line between preserving the heritage of the brand and updating it for growth. Though she never planned to go into the family business, she came to Cousins in 2001 to run the human resources department and loved it.
Why We Like Her: Christine has presided over a rebranding effort that includes a new, more affordable prototype that features a wall of colorful “heritage graphics” celebrating Cousins’ history, including its signature and enduring baked-on-premise bread.
Her Vision: “Our strategy is to fill out smaller markets in established areas like Wisconsin, then move into Minnesota and Michigan,” she says. “By reducing our build-out costs by 25 percent we now have the right business model.” This allows franchisees to open that second or third unit and achieve better market penetration. It has also allowed Cousins to grow by 10 percent in 2010 with an equal number planned for 2011.