Alphagraphics franchisee Steve Adams, a former Mesa entrepreneur, has been selected from among 250 candidates to receive one of the International Franchise Association’s most prestigious awards.
Adams, 60, earned the 2013 Franny Award for Alphagraphics’ best-run business center after 23 years of work with the company. Though Adams has since moved to Chandler, he opened his first Alphagraphics branch in Mesa in 1990.
“I was a partner with Deloitte & Touche in Phoenix, and it was basically during the recession. I had an opportunity to leave and start my own business,” Adams said. “After searching all the opportunities, I decided to give owning an Alphagraphics franchise a try.
“I’m very active in the local Boy Scouts council, and there’s a very large contingent of people from Mesa on the executive committee. People knew what I was looking for and basically suggested that I try downtown Mesa,” he said. “We’d lived in Mesa for 15 years, so it wasn’t like we were new to the community.”
Adams later expanded his business to Tempe in 1997 and Phoenix in 2006. He typically manages about 25 to 30 employees among the three locations and participates in each city’s chamber of commerce.
Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Sally Harrison said Adams, who also has served as a board chair for the chamber, has “been involved in committee work and have sponsored many of our events.”
“Steve is also in my Rotary club and donates the printing of our weekly newsletter,” she said. “He has been very good to me and the Chamber and is always willing to get involved.”
Alphagraphics President and CEO Art Coley said that sense of community leadership was what separated Adams from the rest of the pack, in addition to his impressive business savvy.
“For over two decades, he has been just a rock of a franchisee partner in our network,” Coley said. “Winning the Franny goes beyond business and is about your spirit, your attitude, your willingness to help other franchisee partners be successful. It’s about your employees and the team that you build and the difference you make in their lives. When you take a 360 perspective in all of those areas, you just can’t have any better recipient.”
Coley described the Franny as “the Oscar of the franchising world,” and said most of the top 200 franchise brands choose an annual winner. Alphagraphics is the 184th-largest franchise in the country in terms of sales, according to the company.
Coley said Alphagraphics “could have 125 candidates that meet the (basic business-success) criteria every year, but that’s kind of the ante at the poker table.”
“The Franny award steps more into qualitative, more subjective areas in terms of ...t he way you conduct your business — not just the results, but the way you go about it,” he said. “There’s multiple ways to get to successful results in a business, but not all of those ways are a high road. Steve Adams is a guy that always chooses the right way.”
When asked about further expansion plans, Adams said any additions likely would involve “folding other printing operations into our three stores” vs. opening a new one.
“I’ve been in it since 1990,” he said. “I’m getting to the point where my idea is that I would hopefully start transitioning the business over to my sons in the next year.”
Here's the Official Press Release From AlphaGraphics Announcing the Franny Award