A Brief History of the Upper Midwest KFC Franchisee Association
The Upper Midwest KFC Franchisee Association was first formed in 1974. The first regional association was formed in the Southeast in 1965, and as more organizational meetings were held, more regions came into being.
The Upper Midwest is composed of parts of 9 different states. It includes all of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, the northern two thirds of Illinois, and parts of NW Indiana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Membership is annual and dues are comprised of a set amount for the franchisee and then so much per restaurant.
The region normally has three meetings per year, one at the national convention, a spring meeting focused on Restaurant General Manager development, and a fall annual meeting for the franchisees and their families. Initially, the fall meetings were always held at the Thunderbird Hotel, next to Memorial Stadium in Bloomington Minnesota. After many years, that hotel just wasn’t big enough and the fall meeting was moved to the Radisson South just a few miles west for the next 10 years. Since then we have become much more adventurous, traveling to Tucson, Cancun, the Chicago Lakefront, Phoenix three times, Huntington Beach, Palm Springs, Redondo Beach, Albuquerque and San Antonio. Next year will be in Marco Island. Initially, the spring meetings moved around the region from place to place, allowing everyone to visit other parts of the region. Some of the ones I remember were in Cable Wisconsin, Omaha, Peoria, Brainerd, Dubuque, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Madison, Cedar Rapids, and the Chicago suburbs. Then we went a few years without official spring meetings, doing training meetings at various sites around the region, and then it was decided, based on the success of other regions, to have a big Spring RGM Rally in Las Vegas, and those have continued and have been very successful.
The Upper Midwest region was the first to partner with another region for a fall regional meeting. In 2007, we partnered with the Southwest region and had both joint activities and separate business meetings. I think everyone was very happy with the results. So happy in fact, that in 2008, we partnered with both the Southwest and the Great Lakes for our fall meeting. This is a great treat for our vendor partners, who save time and money by not having other separate fall meetings to attend. While the Great Lakes had to skip one year due to a hotel contract they already had in place, starting in 2010 the fall meetings will always include all three regions.
The Upper Midwest region also was the first to host an international region at one of their meetings. In 1994, as the new Canadian Franchisee Association was getting started, we offered to have them join us at our fall meeting in Minneapolis. We had a good turnout of 50 Canadians join us where we had both joint activities and separate business meetings.
The Upper Midwest has produced many individuals who have had national involvement. Six AKFCF Presidents have come from the region: Don Nicolson, Joe Zimmerman, Bob Schlutz, Bill Allen, Kevin Schlutz and Chuck Weaver. Peggy Kimball also served as the AKFCF Secretary for a short time. Our AKFCF counsel for many years, Andy Selden, hales from Minneapolis, as does our AKFCF convention planner, Deborah Callahan. Bill Allen, after hosting the first franchisee sponsored national convention served as the Convention Planner and Vendor Liaison Emeritus. Michelle Hunt serves as Editor of the AKFCF Quarterly magazine, and maintains our website.
Many Upper Midwest franchisees served many years on various national committees. They included Don DeLaria, Joe Zimmerman, Don Nicolson, Dick Harrigan, Les Davis, Bob Schlutz, Ken Monroe, Bob Thorstenson, Bill Allen, Pete Wasilevich, Kevin Schlutz, Dale Black, Brian Johnson, Mike Bartlett, Peter Helf, Eric Carlisle and Noah Hommerding. Four of the first fifteen franchisees still active in the KFC system are from the Upper Midwest. They are Joan Christenson, Don DeLaria, Rocky Rasmussen, and Chester Jewula. Our current national representatives include: Brian Johnson and Pete Wasilevich, NCAC; Dale Black, NPC; and Eric Carlisle and Bryan Robinson, OEC. Gene Duenow, Government Affairs; Michelle Hunt, AKFCF Quarterly Editor; and Kevin Schlutz, AKFCF Secretary. Our Past Presidents of the region include John St.Martin, Bill Morrow, Stan Rothenspirger, Darren Taylor, Dale Black, Don Nicolson, Don DeLaria, Bob Schlutz, (twice) Bob Cutchall, Bill Allen, Joe Zimmerman, Kevin Schlutz, Ken Monroe, Bob Williams, Gary Hopfenspirger, Chuck Weaver, Mike Bartlett, Mike Kohlman, and now Justin Stewart.
We honor the memory of some of our founding members who have passed away: Ken Monroe, Don and Peggy Kimball, Lyle King, Willis Warner, John Grassi, Don Nicolson and Bob Williams.
This year (2010) marks our 36th Anniversary as a regional association, and we anticipate many more!