HUMAN RESOURCES | Staff Reporter, Australia

Clovis Young, Founder and CEO, Mad Mex

On hard work, commitment, and building relationships.

QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?

Clovis Young: The great thing about the franchised food industry is that there are so many pieces to the business puzzle. There literally is never a dull moment. When I attended the Carnegie Mellon MBA program, I was convinced that I would return to Investment Banking on Wall Street. But in business school I fell in love with ‘business’. Whether it was economics, HR strategy, supply chain, marketing, finance or statistics, I was hooked.

Ultimately the thought of becoming an expert in some financial specialty lost its shine and entrepreneurship with exposure to everything was the only option. So on a day-to-day basis it’s simply a lot of fun. From a big picture perspective, it is incredibly rewarding to build a consumer centric brand with tangible products that people enjoy. Add to that the pleasure of working with great hospitality people and passionate franchisees to achieve a common goal makes Mad Mex a dream job.

QSR Media: What are your key business philosophies? 

Young: My mentor, Jim Fleming of Jewel supermarket fame, once told me that I would have to work my guts out for five years in starting Mad Mex and only then would I know if it was a success or a failure. This idea that you have to commit 110 percent and give everything you have to drive a successful business is the foundation of my entrepreneurship philosophy. Once you accept that hard work is the price of admission, then it comes down to building quality relationships and a compelling strategic vision to align stakeholders on a shared journey. 

QSR Media: What three goals are you focused on? 

Young: Our overarching goal is to make the best burritos in the world. This year our focus has been on three things:
1) To invest in the technology infrastructure to support our international growth
2) To push the brand into new categories like the Cantina de Mad Mex casual dining concept
3) To find smarter and more impactful ways to engage the front line employees that delivers our products and service to customers every day.

QSR Media: What long-term changes are you planning on?

Young: Over the past two years we have invested in supply chain and systems to prepare Mad Mex for international growth in 2016. While this is very exciting, our primary focus remains on the Australian and New Zealand business.

This year we will introduce a range of new side dishes including empanadas and fried stuffed jalapeño poppers as well as new traditional style lime soaked corn chips and taco shells. Lastly, we see tremendous opportunity with our new casual dining concept, Cantina de Mad Mex, which was created with shopping center dining precincts in mind.

QSR Media: What previous positions have prepared you for this one and how?

Young: Out of university, I worked on a proprietary trading (trading the firm’s capital) desk on Wall St for several years, which was a terrific education in how to manage financial risk and the emotional stress of decision-making in periods of uncertainty. These years really taught me a lot about how to see the big picture and future trends through the clutter and noise of daily activity. There is a significant amount of stress in starting a single restaurant and even more in growing a brand and chain to 55 locations. I credit this period of Wall Street training with my ability to maintain and evolve the brand despite the inevitable bumps in the road. With Mad Mex, we have held true to our vision of creating the best burritos in the world but also been able to shift and evolve our strategy to align with market trends and consumer expectations. 

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