IFA Awards recognise contributions to franchising

For over 20 years the International Franchise Association (IFA) has hosted an awards ceremony at its annual conference to recognise and celebrate the achievements of those who have excelled within the franchising industry. The ceremony has four award categories: Hall of Fame, Entrepreneur of the Year, Bonny LeVine and Ronald E. Harrison. The IFA Awards committee and IFA Board of Directors judge award nominees. This year, the annual conference was held at Orlando in the USA.

The longest running and most prestigious award is the Hall of Fame, which was introduced in 1979. The award holder represents the best in franchising. The 2007 Hall of Fame Award went to Charlwood Pacific Group's CEO and Chairman U. Gary Charlwood, who received the accolade for his dedication to his franchise empire, which he has expanded on an international scale across over 1,700 franchised locations worldwide. He chairs four companies: Century 21 Canada, Centum Financial Group, UNIGLOBE Travel International and Century 21 Asia Pacific, which are owned by Charlwood Pacific Group and has contributed over $6 million to the Easter Seals campaign. He also supports Plan International through the Girls Education Initiative in Guinea, West Africa.

Entrepreneur of the Year was launched in 1982. This award identifies individuals who have created a successful business enterprise and have a vision to take it further. While the recipient is not always an IFA member, they have to be involved in a franchise that is at least three years old and demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit, good management skills and play an active role within their community. The 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner was founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Brian Scudamore.

Brian's entrepreneurial drive has helped him turn an old $700 pick-up truck and junk removal concept into the world's largest junk removal service in just 15 years. 1-800-GOT-JUNK now operates in over 330 locations in three countries, nine Canadian provinces and 45 U.S states. Using his knowledge and experience as CEO, Brian has helped mentor thousands of franchisees and prospective entrepreneurs. Through brand awareness initiatives Brian has also promoted the franchise industry as well as his company.

Created in 1994, the Bonny LeVine award is open to female franchisors and franchisees and commemorates the achievements of the well-regarded IFA member and Postal Instant Press co-founder Bonny LeVine. The winner is chosen for her contribution towards the growth of business and her local community through voluntary work, board positions or activities that support the professional advancement of women.

Chief Operating Officer of KENEX Corporation Jeanne Kennedy won the award for 2007. Jeanne joined the Meineke Discount Mufflers franchise in 1973 and was the franchisor's first franchisee. By 1990 she had successfully expanded her business to 18 outlets. Throughout this time Jeanne acted as a teacher and role model for new franchisees until Meineke developed its own training facilities. Jeanne played an active role within the community, volunteering at Houston's Ben Taub Hospital and teaching English to Spanish children.

The final award category is the Ronald E. Harrison Award and is named after the first award recipient who was the Senior VP for PepsiCo, IFA Chairman and former Chairman of the IFA Diversity Institute Board. Gerald A. Fernandez, President and Founder of Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, scooped the 2007 award for his hard efforts helping companies develop their diversity initiatives through consultations, lectures and workshops across the country.