Jimmy John Liautaud

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Jimmy John Liautaud is the creator and chairman of the successful restaurant chain ‘Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. When boys his age were debating which future path of study to pursue, Liautaud was giving wings to his ambitions. His long-held ambition to become an entrepreneur gained momentum when he approached his father for financial assistance in starting his own culinary enterprise. Liautaud chose to open a sandwich store after conducting extensive study. While his sandwiches were delicious, his location did not bring him the success he deserved. Rather of being discouraged by its middling performance, he worked diligently to establish his sandwich shop’s brand name and brand value. Soon after, Liautaud began franchising his tiny one-store sandwich shop. Today, with over 2500 locations, his brand, ‘Jimmy John’s, has undoubtedly not only helped Liautaud accomplish his ambition, but has elevated him to one of the world’s top entrepreneurs. According to a YouGov BrandIndex audit, Jimmy John’s ranked first among restaurant chains with the highest millennial brand loyalty at 83 percent. The majority of persons who have visited ‘Jimmy John’ consider returning.

Childhood & Early Life

Jimmy John Liautaud was born on January 12, 1964 in Arlington Heights, Illinois to James Liautaud, an entrepreneur, and his wife, Gina Gudaityte Liautaud. He has three siblings, two brothers Greg and Robby Liautaud, and a sister Lara Liautaud Berry. He is the third of the four siblings.He attended Elgin Academy, a private prep school in Elgin, Illinois. After completing his schooling, he enrolled at the Eastern Illinois University. However, Liautaud abandoned it midway to build a career in restaurant industry.

Career of Jimmy

When Jimmy John Liautaud graduated from high school, he requested his father for a loan of $25000 to begin his own business. Though his father immediately consented to give him the money, a condition was imposed that if the business failed, Jimmy would enlist in the US Army. Senior Liautaud also sought for a 48 percent interest in the business.With money at his disposal, Jimmy started to consider, about what venture would best be fit for him. Initially, he planned to create a hot dog stand, but finally settled on opening a sandwich restaurant as hot dog stand would run out of his budget.

For launching a sandwich store, all he had to do was to acquire premium meats and make his own bread. He began by having his family taste several types of sandwiches and eventually settled on four different types of sandwiches for his menu.Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches opened in Charleston, Illinois on January 13, 1983. Though he had refined his taste at that time, his terrible location did little to increase his sales. However, not one to give up lightly, he offered his services as a delivery man. Following that, he began selling his sandwich samples door-to-door to University dorm students.His efforts paid off, and within a year, his restaurant became profitable.

By the end of the second year, his sales had increased significantly and he had successfully purchased his father’s half of the business. As a lone proprietor, Jimmy John Liautaud’s food venture became exceedingly profitable, and by 1987, Liautaud had expanded to two additional locations.Jimmy initially met Jamie Coulter, the owner of a Pizza Hut franchise, in 1988. Coulter was instrumental in assisting Liautaud in expanding his modest retail business into a large entrepreneurial endeavor. He taught Liautaud on the need of developing the business’s brand value and name.Jimmy John Liautaud initially sold a Jimmy John’s franchise in 1994.

Not only did the franchise assist Liautaud expand his reach to people from diverse areas and regions, but it also provided him with a fresh growth potential. By the time the first phase of franchising concluded, ‘Jimmy John’ had added ten new locations. He had effectively expanded his business.By 2002, Liautaud’s company had expanded to over 200 locations throughout the country. Around 10% of these corporate locations were managed by Liautaud himself.What appeared to be a dream expansion became soiled when several of Liautaud’s stores underperformed. Indeed, sales at Liautaud-operated locations and those controlled by franchisees were significantly different.

Liautaud took it upon himself to visit 70 of the worst-performing stores. He established a fresh sense of vitality and excitement in the team by motivating them to improve their talents. He flipped the script and transformed a tedious and monotonous task into one that is both exciting and enticing, so assisting the stores in becoming lucrative.
In January 2007, Liautaud reached a partnership with Weston Presidio, a private equity group. This equity firm’s primary objective was to assist him in acquiring better locations for his burgeoning business. By purchasing 33% of the stakes, Weston Presidio had successfully completed over 100 real estate transactions with Liautaud in the first year of their relationship.

Roark Capital Group acquired a majority position in Jimmy John Liautaud’s company in September 2016, following the sale of Weston Presidio’s minority stake. Currently, Liautaud owns 35% of the company. As a result, he is the largest individual stakeholder in the company. Liautaud also serves as chairman of the board of directors as a founding member.Apart from his restaurant ventures, Liautaud is an investor in wines and vineyards, with at least one of his investments appearing on the cover of Wine Spectator Magazine.

Awards and Accomplishments

Jimmy John Liautaud received his first measure of praise when he was nominated to Crain’s Chicago Business’s ’40 Under 40′ list.He was selected Ernst & Young’s Illinois Food & Beverage Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. He was also presented with the National CEO Conference’s Lifetime Achievement Award that year. He was also honored into the Hall of Fame of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization.In 2007, he was invited to deliver thecommencement address at his alma institution, which is now known as the Liautaud-Lyons Upper School, a program of Elgin Academy.

He is a member of the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois at Chicago.He received the renowned Nation’s Restaurant News Golden Chain award in 2012.Jimmy Liautaud was selected ‘Dealmaker of the Year’ by Franchise Times in March 2017. (FT). It was primarily for the arrangement with Roark Capital Group to become the company’s new majority owner. The Financial Times’ editor-in-chief dubbed the transaction ‘one of the best private equity deals in the restaurant industry’.

Personal History and Legacies

Jimmy Liautaud married Leslie Liautaud, a dancer, playwright, actress, and choreographer. Spencer, Lucy, and Fred are the couple’s three children.Liautaud, an active philanthropist, has been involved in numerous charitable endeavors. His friendliness and charity aided in making a difference in numerous ways. He made a $1 million donation to his secondary school, Elgin Academy, in 2008. In 2011, he made a donation to Champaign, Illinois’s Frances Nelson SmileHealthy dental facility.In July 2014, Liautaud made a $1 million donation to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which assists families of dead troops. Liautaud contributed to the first phase of building of the Kickapoo Rail Trail, which connects Urbana and St. Joseph, in mid-2016.

Liautaud co-founded the Liautaud Family Foundation with his wife Leslie. The philanthropic organization’s primary objective was to facilitate donations to a range of charity causes. The Foundation’s first gift was to Crisis Nursery, a $200,000 investment for the nursery’s facility development. The nursery functions as a shelter, offering emergency childcare for families experiencing financial hardship.Liautaud’s passion for hunting landed him in a pickle, to the point where his restaurant was boycotted. On social media, images of him posing with dead elephants, rhinos, and a leopard went viral. Though photos were taken in 2010 on a licensed safari in Africa, certain segments of the population continue to associate him with the continent’s big game.

Estimated Net Worth

Jimmy John Liautaud is the creator and former chairman of Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise. In October 2018, Liautaud was listed in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. At this time, Forbes valued Liautaud’s documented fortune at $1.7 billion. James John Liautaud is the creator and former chairman of Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise. In October 2018, Liautaud was listed in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. At this time, Forbes valued Liautaud’s documented fortune at $1.7 billion.