Bob Thomson, a SUBWAY franchisee with twenty-four restaurants in Iowa, will soon be celebrating his 86th birthday, and twenty-two years with the SUBWAY chain.
At an age when most would consider retirement, Bob Thomson left his job running variety stores across Iowa to take on a bigger franchise- the SUBWAY sandwich chain giant.
“The first Subway I saw was in Hawaii. I went in, grabbed a sandwich, and was immediately sold on the program. I knew I wanted to become a franchisee for this company that I knew would grow in the years to follow,” said Bob, who has an office in Charles City with his business partner, George Slattery.
And that it did. From just 3,000 restaurants in all 50 states when Bob joined the team 23 years ago, to currently more than 36,000 locations in 98 countries, Bob has grown with the developing chain, owning 24 restaurants himself. Giving other young franchisees a run for their money, Bob owns the most SUBWAY restaurants in the northern Iowa territory. In addition, Bob and his partner are proud of the fact that their restaurants provide about 250 jobs in the community.
Born in Minnesota, Bob always had an interest in entrepreneurism, studying business at the University of Minnesota after serving two years in the Navy during World War II. A job with a chamber of commerce brought Bob to Iowa followed by owning several Ben Franklin stores and eventually buying his first SUBWAY franchise in 1990.
With a never-ending supply of energy, you can find Bob at the yearly SUBWAY Convention, multi-unit owner meetings, and field meetings throughout the year, keeping up to date on the latest developments and technology within the company. When he’s not working, Bob enjoys spending time in sunny Florida with friends, and visiting his four children.
“He’s got more stamina than the average 20 year old,” said Charlie Thomson, Bob’s son who is also involved in the business. “Managing and traveling to his stores to make sure they are in the best condition possible is what keeps him going.” A shared family value for entrepreneurism, Bob’s daughter is also involved in the business, working at a SUBWAY® restaurant on the Luther College campus and Charlie chips in whenever help is needed. Bob hopes his children can carry on the business when he retires, which he says is nowhere in the near future.
“Bob certainly has an inspiring story, and we are proud of the fact that he, like many Subway franchisees, chose Subway to kick off his second career,” said Chief Development Officer Don Fertman. “Franchisees like Bob, who are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, are the heart and soul of the Subway family. Bob’s story is just one of 17,000 other stories of entrepreneurs who have discovered that owning and operating a Subway franchise is not just a job or an investment, but a way of life.”