SUBWAY Development Agent, Hugh Stiel of Metairie, Louisiana, is celebrating 25 years of entrepreneurial success with the world’s largest restaurant chain during a team meeting this week at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi.
A true pioneer, Stiel opened the SUBWAY chain’s first restaurant in Louisiana in 1986.
“The economy along the Gulf Coast was going through a difficult time, I had just turned 30 and was looking for a career,” says Stiel. “I stopped in a Subway restaurant in Florida and really enjoyed the product. There were franchise opportunities in the New Orleans area and always wanting to be a business owner, I opened the first Subway in Metairie.”
Today, from offices in Lake Charles and Metairie, Stiel and his team oversee 522 individually owned and operated SUBWAY restaurants along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, and southeastern Texas.
“After a year in business, there was an opportunity to become a Development Agent for the chain. I sold the restaurant and focused my efforts on building the Subway brand in the region. 25 years later, there are more than 500 stores in the territory,” Stiel proudly admits.
Chiefly responsible for building and managing a geographical territory, SUBWAY Development Agents, known as DAs, provide local franchisees with the necessary support and expertise to help them launch and run a successful business.
The restaurants in Stiel’s territory provide more than 5,000 job and career opportunities to people throughout the Gulf Coast region.
With a constant eye on the needs of the community, Stiel and company, along with many area franchisees, participate in outreach programs of special local significance as well as those that support the SUBWAY brand’s national efforts of promoting healthy eating, active lifestyles and corporate responsibility.
SUBWAY personnel can often be seen helping out at events such as American Heart Association Heart Walks and Habitat for Humanity initiatives. In fact, Gulf Coast SUBWAY franchisees and crew members took part in the Habitat for Humanity project following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which was responsible for destroying about 40 SUBWAY restaurants along with their surrounding communities.
Working with one particular franchisee in La Place, Louisiana, Stiel was able to provide guidance as their restaurant was rebuilt using “eco” or “green” elements to promote conservation through the use of energy saving equipment, recycled building materials and products made from sustainable sources. With his input, the project became the region’s first SUBWAY Eco-restaurant.
“I am glad that I have been able to work in a business that fosters small business ownership among people who have embraced an entrepreneurial spirit. From Katrina to the Gulf Oil Spill, we have faced some challenging times, however, by working together, we have been able to grow the brand to even greater levels,” says Stiel.
There are 40 new SUBWAY restaurants in various stages of planning that are expected to open by the end of 2012. Stiel’s long range goal is to increase the store count to approximately 600 locations within the next three years while also increasing sales and franchisee profitability and placing more restaurants in non-traditional venues such as airports, hospitals, college campuses and inside other retail businesses.