According to Hugh Williams, he is lucky enough to have Baskin-Robbins “in his blood.” His high school years were spent working in his parent’s Baskin-Robbins shop where he played every role from cashier to assistant manager. After learning the ins and outs of his parent’s business in the 1970’s and 80’s, he knew he wanted to own his own Baskin-Robbins franchise one day.
Hugh went on to graduate from Georgia Tech University with an engineering degree and worked selling computer systems to major commercial accounts. After spending five successful years in the corporate world, in 1989, Hugh decided to pursue his dream and develop his first new Baskin-Robbins shop in the Buckhead Neighborhood of Atlanta. Over the next eight years, he bought and sold a total of five shops in the Atlanta metro area, all of which performed very well. His success made him eligible for several franchisee awards including the Marketing Excellence Award in 1993 and 1994, and Operator of the Year in 1995. Hugh also served on the brand’s Marketing Advisory Council during his tenure with Baskin-Robbins.
Despite his love for the brand, Hugh sold his shops in 1997 and dove into the real estate industry, which was booming in Atlanta at the time. After three short years, he got the itch to return to business ownership again and purchased a custom sign and graphics franchise, where he was able to utilize his extensive experience in sales. Due to Hugh’s marketing skills, the business was successful, but he ultimately decided to sell.
“While I was successful selling custom signs and graphics, I knew it wasn’t a long term venture for me,” added Hugh. “I missed the simplicity of owning a Baskin-Robbins restaurant. At an ice cream shop, you offer one product in different variations: ice cream. Owning a Baskin-Robbins location requires dealing with a limited number of vendors as opposed to a traditional retail store that requires multiple vendors to function and operate properly.”
Long before Hugh became a multi-unit Baskin-Robbins franchisee in the 90’s, he had his eye on an existing Baskin-Robbins location serving the Buckhead Community of Atlanta. For sale in 1989, the asking price didn’t fall within his budget. Nearly 18 years later, Hugh ran into the current owner – the same man that outbid him in 1989 – and asked if he could purchase the shop from him.
“Making customers happy working at Baskin-Robbins was a passion that never left,” said Hugh. “It was 2006 and I was in the midst of selling my sign franchise when I ran into Pete at the local Sam’s Club in Atlanta. Pete was the franchisee of the Baskin-Robbins shop in Buckhead I had tried to purchase 17 years earlier. I took running into him as a sign and convinced him to sell me his shop in Buckhead. I always knew I would return to my Baskin-Robbins roots and what better way than at my dream location.”
Today, Hugh still owns the Buckhead location on Peachtree Road; it’s one of the first Baskin-Robbins shops that opened in Georgia almost 60 years ago. He was proud to be named the brand’s Franchisee of the Year in 2014. Hugh sits on the Marketing Subcommittee and he is also co-chair of the brand’s Cake Innovation Subcommittee. Both groups work to develop marketing ideas for new products and his participation gives Hugh a chance to represent Baskin-Robbins franchisees across the country. He’s played a wide range of roles in the business, making him a multi-faceted asset and an invaluable ambassador for the brand. It’s safe to say that Baskin-Robbins has been and always will be a part of Hugh Williams.