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The ambitious goal of a new research center is to lead in the teaching of franchising

Dunkin' Donuts boxes coming down a conveyor

To William Rosenberg, there were only two types of people in this world--the PMAs and the NMAs. The late Dunkin' Donuts founder believed that a person just couldn't succeed in life without a good dose of positive mental attitude--and a lack of its evil twin, negative mental attitude. And he had reason to know.

During the Depression, Rosenberg was forced to leave the 8th grade to help support his family by delivering telegrams for Western Union. He soon became the fastest delivery boy in his fleet, and when a large account proposed a one-on-one contest pitting Western Union against a rival, the teenage Rosenberg easily won the contract for his company.

After World War II, Rosenberg scraped together $5,000, bought five trucks and went into business catering boxed lunches and snacks to workers at Boston-area factories. Realizing that nearly half of his business was coffee and doughnuts, Rosenberg opened his first doughnut shop, called the Open Kettle, in Quincy, Mass., in 1948. The name was changed to Dunkin' Donuts in 1950, and the first franchise agreement was signed five years later. Today, Dunkin' Donuts has 5,300 shops in 31 countries.

"Failure just wasn't in his vocabulary," Ann Rosenberg says of her husband, who died in 2002 at the age of 86. "When he set out to do something, he went at it to win or die trying, and I never knew him to fail."

Rosenberg's passion and tenacious commitment are both the impetus and the inspiration behind the creation of the recently opened William Rosenberg International Center for Franchising at UNH's Whittemore School of Business and Economics, says Udo Schlentrich, the center's director.

The center has begun offering classes, compiling research databases and creating both an online bibliography and an archived collection of important franchising industry documents and memorabilia.

But the groundwork for the center was laid long before Rosenberg's death. Ann Rosenberg grew up in New Hampshire, and she and her husband spent 14 years at Wilrose Farms in East Kingston, a horse breeding complex where the farm help came from the UNH animal sciences program. In 1980, the Rosenbergs donated the farm to UNH with the expectation that the university would sell the property and use the proceeds to open a first-of-its-kind franchise research center.

"He wanted UNH to be the leader in the teaching of franchising, at both the under- and post-graduate levels," says Ann Rosenberg, who is enthusiastic about the project. "He believed that franchising would put UNH on the map."

The center is already drawing international attention for its Franchise 50 Index, a monthly financial tracking of the market performance of the nation's top 50 public franchisors, says Schlentrich, who was born in Austria and holds graduate degrees from Cornell and Lausanne Hotel Management School in Switzerland, and a Ph.D. from Strathclyde University, one of Europe's leading business schools. During a 25-year career in the hospitality industry, Schlentrich held CEO and senior board-level positions with leading American and international hospitality organizations such as Hilton International, Omni International and Loew's.

Ann Rosenberg says Schlentrich shares her husband's vision for the creation of a first-rate research center that will study the economic and social impact of a business model that began in the United States but has spread worldwide.

William Rosenberg was one of the first to recognize the enormous impact franchising would have on the American culture. In 1959, he founded the International Franchise Association, which by 2002 had grown to 30,000 members in 75 different industries worldwide.

According to an IFA-sponsored study released in March, more than 760,000 franchised businesses directly account for 9.8 million jobs and generate a total economic output of more than $1.5 trillion, or nearly 10 percent of the nation's private-sector economy.

Franchising is a way of distributing products or services that works on two levels. The "franchisor" provides a licensed privilege to the "franchisee" to do business, and offers assistance in organizing, training, merchandising, marketing and managing in return for a fee. Technically, the contract binding the two parties is the "franchise," but that term is often used to describe the actual business that the franchisee operates.

Rosenberg pictured the franchise industry balanced on three pillars: sound business practices, oversight of an organizing body or association and continued education and research, says Schlentrich. "The missing link was education and research," Schlentrich says, "and he wanted that link to be completed at UNH."

Ann Rosenberg is aware that New Hampshire historically has been tight with money for education. As a result, the center will need significant support from the private sector, she says.

Schlentrich and WSBE dean Steve Bolander, who has also played a key role in the center's development, have taken a pragmatic approach to this problem by concentrating first on developing an online franchising resource center and compiling statistical information databases that will be made available for a fee. The center will also earn money by conducting seminars, studies and other research for the private sector.

Classes will draw from the business school's faculty resources in marketing, management, business law and accounting, and students will learn through the case study method.

America's shift toward a service economy and the currently unsteady job market have increased the numbers of people interested in owning their own business, Schlentrich says. The franchising model offers a proven product and business plan, as well as the kind of training and ongoing support that makes it possible for more people to become business owners, he adds.

The center's board of directors plans to collaborate with the IFA to design research projects on topics ranging from economic indicators of franchise performance to the industry's influence on economic, labor and employment issues. The center will organize international symposia that will bring together academic and industry leaders in the field. Those interested in franchise opportunities will benefit from online support features, such as posted articles, franchise resource links and the inclusion of some how-to materials offering guidance to potential franchisees. The center also plans to offer seminars that will outline some of the dos and don'ts of the franchise business.

"The goal is to make the center the leader in franchise teaching and outreach," Bolander says. "We have already begun that process." ~

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