Former Franchise-CEO Gareth Pike is making it his mission to add value at all levels.
As co-creator of the new AVAAL Group, Pike and international executive Mike Charter have combined their skills and energy to consult, create opportunities and acquire equity in a broad range of organisations, with the view to adding value on all levels.
Gareth started his career with a decade-long stint in management and training at McDonalds before joining the team that was to introduce Starbucks into Australia.
“We had the backing of a corporate giant in Seattle, yet here, we worked from a garage,” he laughs. “Our first 10 cafes were successful but the rest didn’t do as well,” he says. “All of our stores were corporate. Managers don’t care as much as owners, which was a great lesson in the power of franchising.”
Gareth was keen to get back into the franchise system, so leapt at the opportunity to join the Gloria Jeans operation.
“When I first started we were bringing on 100 new stores a year,” says Gareth. “It was a vibrant and successful culture. But after ten years I had risen through the ranks to CEO but the hours were long, I had a young family and I felt I had achieved all I had set out to do with Gloria Jeans. My wife is also experienced in franchising so we had decided to back ourselves and start our own venture.”
“We built a product marketing and distribution business and established strong relationships across a range of retail and direct-to-consumer channels.”
Gareth was to introduced to Mike Charter, by a mutual friend – Angus Ross – who saw a complimentary fit of skills, business interests and values. “When Mike and I first came together it was to solve a massive growth problem for our respective businesses. We not only solved the problem, we saw the growth potential in our combined skill sets, and were compelled to act.
And so, in March 2016, AVAAL was born. A corroboration between Gareth and Mike, the business name is an acronym for ‘Adding Value At All Levels’.
“We go beyond a typical consultancy service” says Gareth. “We consult, but we also invest sweat equity into businesses we feel we can benefit, and benefit from.
“Secondly we are all about developing distribution channels for a variety of products, including our Charity Snackbox , appropriately named Uhelp.
“The UHelp boxes can now be found in more than 3,000 outlets statewide, with new outlets coming on each week, with a strong growth opportunity. The boxes operate on an honesty system, providing snacks such as trail mix and chips in workplaces, with 50% of planned 2017 profits going to the National Breast Cancer Fund.”
“Everything we do centres on our philosophy of ‘adding value at all levels’,” says Gareth, “through the construction of our business, partnering with the right people and pulling 100 levers to effect change. We signed our first franchisee within 40 days of taking over the UHelp business. That has to make us one of the fastest acquisition-to-franchise businesses in the country.
“But that’s just one of the many projects AVAAL has undertaken. There’s ‘Exhale’ magazine, a medical information website in conjunction with The Garven Institute and a partnership with super-vet Dr Katrina Warren, which all take advantage of the distribution channels we are establishing.
“By helping other businesses we are helping other people achieve their goals,” says Gareth. “It’s this AVAAL philosophy which gives us all the opportunity to live a meaningful life.”