Responses from President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Mizes
What has changed since last year when Blaze ranked as the fastest growing company in Los Angeles?
We continue to accelerate our growth, opening 75 restaurants on a base of 105 this year. We continue to evolve the brand in terms of design, marketing, new products, and cultivating fanatics, our mission. Best of all, we are more excited about our brand and passionate about creating the next impactful lifestyle brand.
Blazed Fast-Fire'd Pizza
BUSINESS: Fast-casual pizza chain
TWO-YEAR REVENUE GROWTH: 1,729 percent
2015 REVENUE: $100.2 million
How has your company evolved since it was founded?
From day one it was our goal to be an inclusive company and brand that celebrates individuality. We continue to build on this vision by reinforcing it with design, marketing, and new products, with the goal of cultivating fanatics. To keep pace with our national growth, we have placed a deeper focus on teamwork and accountability, ensuring a consistent brand standard and experience whether guests are visiting one of our more than 50-plus California locations or one of our restaurants in Chicago, New York, Dallas, or Boston.
How has the company been funded?
We have a small group of investors who believed in the brand from day one. Today we are net-income and cash-flow positive.
What did you do to achieve this rate of growth?
From the beginning, we believed we could grow to 1,000 and more restaurants. We partnered with multi-unit and multibrand franchisees, built relationships with best-in-class suppliers, developed innovative and effective training and operating systems, and invested in people to support the brand and our partners.
Who were your key advisers in the process?
Our board has been helpful and we hired experienced leaders who have guided our growth.
How did you manage the growing workload?
To support our high growth goals, we have had to invest ahead in all areas. Our support team has grown from three people four years ago to 40-plus this year. We found another office near our Pasadena restaurant and had to make sure that we hired for experience and cultural fit with the brand.
What were the biggest obstacles hindering your growth and how did you overcome them?
People and real estate are always the big hurdles to overcome in achieving our growth. We invest in people and training and culture to develop our team, suppliers and partners, and we overcome real estate hurdles by developing relationships with brokers, landlords, franchisees, etc.
Is there still room to grow in your current market or will you seek to expand into new areas?
Our growth is nearly boundless. We believe there is room for 1,000-plus Blaze pizzas in the U.S. and then equal opportunity around the world. We are already in 31 states and see opportunity in more states and Canada.
How do you manage expectations going forward?
Expectations are relatively easy to manage. Underpromise and overdeliver!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No. We are enjoying the journey – our last guiding principle.
How has your location in the L.A. area played into your company’s growth?
Pasadena and L.A. provide a wonderful pool of talent, inspiration for design, culinary leadership, and a wonderful place to live.
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