When it comes to uniquely American success stories Fred DeLuca’s story of building the Subway brand is one of the best. Fred had an amazingly prescient vision for a 17 year-old kid in 1965. His idea started from just a deli in Bridgeport, CT and became one of the largest fast-casual franchise restaurants in the world. It was a visionary concept that pioneered the idea of providing a healthier, less fattening meal option at a significant value price point. When asked if that was his strategy all along? His smiling response was, “You’re assuming I had a strategy.”
He borrowed $1,000 from Dr. Peter Buck, a family friend, and began to make that vision a reality. He instinctively understood and learned through trial and error that visibility and marketing were essential to growing his brand and the company.
Fred’s success cannot be denied – he grew that one store originally known as “Pete’s Submarine” to a chain of over 44,000 franchised Subway stores around the world. The company just reached its 50th anniversary on August 28th 2015. The company’s annual convention, which also celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, was held in July and despite Fred being in ill health, he insisted on attending – a true testament to his passion and love of a company that he built from the ground up.
Fred’s net worth went from the “$0” starting line to a Forbes estimated worth of $3.5 Billion. Fred established a legacy of wealth creation for others to emulate. The average franchise costs only $150,000 to build making it one of the more affordable franchise opportunities. Franchise owners came from every class and built their business and inspired others to grow their wealth the way Fred did it and many other millionaires and multi-millionaires were created in the process.
Fred also gave back to the community without fanfare. For example, he partnered with Pete Buck to create Franchise Brands, a company that invests in and helps other entrepreneurs find success in the franchise industry. Fred believed in entrepreneurism as a key component of the American Dream. He believed it is the quickest way to improve the financial wellbeing of the most people in our country, or any country.
The world needs more business leaders like Fred DeLuca.