When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, thousands were left scrambling to reassemble their lives. Late this summer, it was a cruel version of déjà vu as the Louisiana coastline was battered by storms that spurred massive flooding. As much as eight feet of water besieged these areas, with Baton Rouge and its surroundings taking the brunt of the damage.
Among the thousands of residents impacted by the flooding was Smoothie King franchisee Roger Wilder, who owns 12 locations throughout Louisiana. His original Smoothie King franchise in Denham Springs was significantly damaged. But rather than taking a “woe is me” attitude, without hesitation, Wilder turned his efforts outward to help the local community.
For a week straight Wilder and his crew used his unaffected stores as hubs to make smoothies for donation to local flood victims. With support from the Smoothie King corporate office, he used a company van to deliver the smoothies throughout the community to help comfort, nourish and energize impacted residents and business owners.
In total, Wilder and company handed out more than 10,000 free smoothies to residents in shelters in Livingston Parish and nearby schools, as well as dozens of neighborhoods in Walker, Watson and Denham Springs.
“Our community is hurting,” said Wilder. “But because we’re all one community, we’ll do whatever it takes to stick together. There’s still a lot of work to do to get our community back on its feet, but I hope that in a way, donating smoothies and showing that we’re all here to help each other is a step in the right direction.”
Wilder started as a team member at stores of Smoothie King’s original owners, Steve and Cindy Kuhnau. After 15 years as a franchisee, his connections with the brand and the community-run equally deep. He embodies the idea of smoothies with a purpose – delivering an experience that goes beyond a simple transaction.
With year over year consistent, top-performing Smoothie King locations, it’s not surprising that Wilder received the 2016 Franchisee of the Year Award at the International Franchise Association Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting on September 13, 2016, in Washington D.C.
Rebuilding With a Purpose
The acts of kindness Wilder carried out during this year’s floods were certainly not the first time a Smoothie King franchisee put the community’s needs before its own. During Katrina in 2005, Smoothie King franchisee David Magri saw two of his stores in Saint Bernard Parish inundated by the floodwaters. Meanwhile, his third location near the University of New Orleans was closed off.
Fortunately, Magri had invested in a Smoothie King food truck. This turned out to be a saving grace not only for Magri but also for the community devastated by Katrina. In addition to the iconic smoothies that Smoothie King is known for, Magri was also able to provide food to local community members on a limited basis.
With the fallout of the hurricane, many residents were forced to relocate, which left much of the Lower Ninth Ward with a fraction of the population that it had been prior to the flooding. As a result, Magri was able to re-open just one of the locations in Saint Bernard Parish, as well as his Smoothie King store near the University of New Orleans. Ten years later, Magri is happy to no longer be underwater. The fact that he was able to rebuild after so much devastation is a testament to how dedicated he and Smoothie King remain to the city that built the brand.
Meanwhile, Smoothie King still continues to help the area rebuild through its partnership with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans.
What’s Your Purpose?
Both Magri and Wilder embody the character that fits in with the Smoothie King culture. When you consider your options for becoming a business owner, passion is a prerequisite. You can’t have lukewarm feelings about starting a business. When you become part of the Smoothie King network of franchisees, you’re investing in a business with a purpose. On top of building connections with your community, you’re also partnering with a concept that seeks to inspire healthier lifestyles and to promote wellness on a large scale.
To learn more about the Smoothie King franchise opportunity, view our Franchise Kit here.