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Founding V & J Foods in 1982 — with the help of her brother John Daniels’ financial backing — the first franchise under the operation of Valerie Daniels-Carter opened in 1984. A year later, V & J Foods expanded with an additional site, paving a road of accomplishment that many in the food and franchise industry aspire to travel.
Today, the largest female-owned franchise operator in the country, V & J Foods hosts 127 units in the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and Ohio.
“It was a continual kind of growth pattern. We went through the application process, which was very long. After that… the market we were interested in, Wisconsin, was available,” says CEO Daniels-Carter, speaking on the initial steps that she and her brother took to own their first Burger King restaurant.
Under various franchisees (V & J National Enterprises, V & J United Enterprises), V & J Foods operates several Häagen-Dazs, Coffee Beanery and Pizza Hut restaurants in addition to Burger King. There are also more than two dozen Auntie Anne’s pretzel shops that V&J Foods owns through VJ and O’Neal Enterprises, a joint venture with former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal founded in 2006.
“Everyday is different. I get up, I have my devotion, either I’m traveling to business meetings or I’m in the office,” says Daniels-Carter who is heavily involved in her church and community.
“One day you may find me in a restaurant greeting customers or you may find me sitting in the White House talking to the President about what it is to be a successful businessperson. There is no structured day for me,” she says.
The Road to Business
According to Daniels-Carter, a successful franchise business must have great people, individuals who are committed to superior results, a great location and a product that people are willing to pay for. Most important is the owner’s responsibility for equipping those committed individuals with the tools that make them successful.