Aziz Hashim is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in franchising and food service. He is Founder and Managing Partner of NRD Capital, as well as founder of two other innovative restaurant concepts – Franklin Junction and “Own It.”
Founded in 2014, NRD Capital is a private equity firm headquartered in Atlanta which occupies a unique niche in equity investing. NRD Capital invests in companies that offer compelling unit-level economics, as well as in technologies that improve the profitability of operators. Its portfolio includes iconic brands like Frisch’s Big Boy, as well as fast-growing concepts like Altitude Trampoline Parks, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and The Captain’s Boil. In the technology sector, NRD has invested in leading platforms such as Harri, 1Huddle, Nextforce, Valyant AI and others that increase the bottom line of operators. The firm boasts more than 75 years of collective operational and financial experience, and the corresponding ability to underwrite brands based on a fundamental unit-level analysis.
In April 2020, Aziz launched a new, innovative concept across the United States – Franklin Junction – to address the severe headwinds faced by America’s restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis. He created the concept of the “Host Kitchen™” and debuted Franklin Junction, a digital platform helping restaurants (host facilities) monetize excess kitchen and storage capacity by producing and selling popular menu items from a curated roster of established restaurant brands generally not yet available in the market area – with limited capital expenditure for both the host facility and brand. The concept’s proprietary process determines what products can be successfully sold out of host facilities, from branded hot foods to pre-packaged food items. Franklin Junction also expanded to include host facilities outside the food industry that benefit from its approach to last-mile micro-distribution, including hotels and convenience stores.
Prior to NRD Capital and Franklin Junction, in 1996, Aziz founded NRD Holdings – a franchise development and holding company. After starting with just a single quick-service location in Atlanta, NRD Holdings soon grew into one of the largest restaurant enterprise franchisee companies in the United States. At NRD Holdings, Aziz operated leading global franchise brands, including Popeye’s®, KFC®, Taco Bell® and Domino’s Pizza®. Aziz’s passion for innovation was evident from the start – here, Aziz created “Own It!” in 2010, a program that lets hourly workers climb the ladder and become a franchise owner. “Own It” creates a path to success and entrepreneurship for every member of the organization.
Aziz’s dynamic leadership, success, and innovation have led to esteemed recognition across the industry. In 2018, he was named by Nation’s Restaurant News as one of the 10 most influential leaders in the restaurant industry. Additionally, NRD Capital, after just four years of establishment, was named to Restaurant Business Magazine’s 2018 “Power 20” list, alongside some of the other most well-regarded private equity firms in the world.
Aziz remains deeply committed to community service and leveraging the franchise business model to create financial independence for families in developing countries, as well as social sector franchising to improve the quality of life for families in emerging countries. Aziz and his wife endowed a faculty position at the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at Georgia State University for the Study of Franchise Entrepreneurship in 2014. Additionally, Aziz previously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA), representing the franchise industry and its $1.6 trillion annual economic output. In 2017, Aziz created the NRD Foundation to support non-profit and for-profit international organizations that create entrepreneurs, foster financial independence, and power academic research focused on franchise entrepreneurship.
Aziz graduated with honors from the University of California at Irvine’s prestigious electrical engineering program. In 2020, Aziz was named to the UCI Engineering Hall of Fame alongside other esteemed alumni who have made a significant impact in their profession and brought distinction to their alma mater.
Connect with Aziz on LinkedIn.
Dr. Benjamin Lawrence is the Aziz Hashim endowed Professor in Franchise Entrepreneurship. Lawrence focuses on empirical work that helps inform hospitality practice on topics that intersect service operations and marketing.
The goal of Lawrence’s research is to contribute in a meaningful way to theory building yet provide insight for hospitality practitioners in managing the distribution and consumption of their services. Lawrence’s broad domains of interest include franchise relationships, consumer co-production, and service innovation.
He has published research articles in leading business journals including Production and Operations Management, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Operations Management, Journal of Retailing, Industrial Marketing Management, Service Science and Journal of Business Ethics.
Prior to joining Georgia State University, he was on the faculty of Cornell University. He has won best paper awards from Service Science in 2015 and the International Society of Franchising in 2016. He currently serves as VP and Treasurer of the International Society of Franchising and VP of Programs for the POM College of Service Operations.
Connect with Dr. Lawrence on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Franchising in Atlanta
- Why Aziz was interested in supporting a faculty position at GSU focused on Franchising Entrepreneurship
- Franchising at GSU
- Why Atlanta is a franchising capital
- What makes Atlanta so attractive to franchisors
- Interesting innovations in franchising happening now
- How the pandemic has impacted franchising
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