Franchise Industry Update with Marisa Felker of Washington Federal and Jeff Wolf of Quarles and Brady
In recent years the restaurant franchise industry has been growing approximately 6% per year, and it is currently a $256 billion industry with no signs of slowing. Arizona is among the hottest states for both new franchisees to get their starts and established franchisees to grow their businesses.
Washington Federal Bank’s Franchise Finance Division Team Leader, Marisa Felker and Quarles & Brady Franchise Law Partner, Jeff Wolf, get us caught up on what’s happening in the world of franchise, offering helpful tips for those looking to get into the industry – and those seeking to grow their current franchise businesses as well. Listen in and let us know what you think.
Washington Federal is a full-service national banking institution that focuses on business-to-business banking, commercial and equipment lending, as well as home loan and corporate real estate financing. It has 31 offices in Arizona including locations in Chandler, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Green Valley, Mesa, Yuma, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Scottsdale, Sun City, Sun City West and Tucson. Washington Federal is committed to developing a strong and loyal relationship with clients, shareholders and the community at large.
Marisa Felker is the Franchise Finance Manager at Washington Federal. In mid-2028, Washington Federal launched a formal Franchise Finance Division focused on helping established restaurant franchisees secure funding for their businesses. The division is being led by industry veteran Felker, who will work from the Arizona Regional Headquarters office in Scottsdale and oversee the program across Washington Federal’s eight-state footprint.
Over her 25-year career, Felker has served as a leader in franchise funding and also brings expertise in the areas of private banking and portfolio management. She has worked in leadership roles with both CitiCapital and GE Capital in franchise finance. Felker holds a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Southern Illinois University. She earned her Master’s degree in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Quarles & Brady is a full-service AmLaw 200 firm with more than 500 attorneys offering an array of legal services to corporate and individual clients that range from small entrepreneurial businesses to Fortune 100 companies, with practice focuses in health care and life sciences, business law, labor and employment, real estate, data privacy and security, and complex litigation. The firm has offices in Chicago; Indianapolis; Madison; Milwaukee; Naples, Florida; Phoenix; Scottsdale; Tampa; Tucson; and Washington, D.C.
Jeff Wolf, a partner at Quarles & Brady in Phoenix, is a commercial litigator with nearly 30 years of experience representing clients in a variety of business sectors. His practice focuses on franchise, employment, health care, contract, partnership, real estate, and intellectual property matters. He also serves as outside general counsel to several Phoenix-based behavioral health care companies.
As a member of the firm’s national Franchise & Distribution team, Wolf devotes a significant part of his practice to representing franchisors in litigation involving issues of unpaid or under reported royalties, fraud, liquidated damages, system standards, earnings claims, encroachment, advertising funds, trademark and trade dress infringement, and vicarious liability. He also has extensive experience handling cases requiring the enforcement of restrictive covenants and other post-termination rights and the defense of franchise and consumer class actions and other system-threatening cases.
Wolf has handled numerous arbitrations, bench trials and jury trials in state and federal courts throughout the United States. He is a highly effective, detail- oriented and responsive attorney committed to helping clients resolve their disputes as cost efficiently as possible, whether through early settlement, mediation or, if necessary, trial.