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Hillsborough native, 24, finds success in smoothies Brandon Shamy Franchise Owner

HILLSBOROUGH — Brandon Shamy had a business career in mind from the time he enrolled at the University of Maryland. But an internship with a major financial firm made him rethink his plans.“I’m really good with numbers, so I thought finance could be great,” Shamy said. “But I didn!t enjoy it once I got behind the desk. I like to interact with people.”

The township resident quickly found his new calling in the blended-fruit business, thanks to his love for the Smoothie King store on his Maryland college campus. In October 2009, Shamy opened his own store on Route 206, bringing the popular franchise to his hometown and marking just the third Smoothie King location in New Jersey at the time.

The success of the venture has allowed Shamy, 24, to be one of Central Jersey’s young entrepreneurs and to stake his claim in a growing business amid a struggling economy. After opening a second store in Flemington last year, he now owns two of the 10 Smoothie King franchises in the Garden State.

As a mixture of fruit, water and ice, it’s a simple concept that can appeal to anyone looking for a healthy snack, Shamy said. And since the majority of the smoothies contain protein, they can be used as a meal replacement or as a supplement to a traditional diet.

“I just thought it was a concept that was really going to take off with people trying to be more health conscious,” he said. “That leads into why I love the product. We’re selling something healthy, which is nice. You have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The Hillsborough High School graduate said his favorite product is the “Shredder,” a blend of chocolate, peanut butter and protein, including Smoothie King’s own “Gladiator” chocolate protein. He also is partial to the “Pineapple Surf,” a mixture of pineapples, strawberries, kiwi and vanilla protein.

He developed his love for the smoothies while studying business finance and marketing at the University of Maryland. Shamy had never heard of Smoothie King until then, he said, noting that the closest store to his hometown at the time was in Red Bank.

After opting to start his own franchise, Shamy took extra classes in order to graduate in December 2008, a semester early. His parents then helped him obtain a loan for the business, he said, allowing him to open the 1,500-square-foot Hillsborough store in October 2009.

Fourteen months later he opened the Flemington location, a 1,750-square-foot store, adding to the suddenly growing number of Smoothie Kings in New Jersey and across the country. The company now has more than 600 locations across the U. S. and in Seoul, South Korea. “It’s starting to spread, so I didn’t want to miss the boat,” Shamy said. “I wanted to kind of claim my territory because it’s starting to take off.”

The Smoothie King concept was developed in 1967 as founder Steve Kuhnau sought to concoct a nutritional, high-protein drink that was fruit-based, according to the company website. Kuhnau, who struggled with food allergies, later sold the smoothies at his Louisiana health food store before he incorporated and trademarked the company in 1987.

Shamy called his employees “a huge part of our success.” Two of his good friends from high school, Tommy Molarz and Rob Griffith, help him run the Hillsborough and Flemington stores, and he employs several Hillsborough High School students.

The proximity to the high school on nearby Raider Boulevard is another key for the business, he said.

Shamy said he hopes to open a third location within two to three years and a fourth by the time he reaches 30. For now, he has plenty to do at his two current locations, where he spends between 50 and 60 hours per week. “I still want to see my loyal customers, show my face and be involved,” Shamy said.

Published by My Central Jersey