PowerPlayer: Businessman Rob Branca
Monday, March 11, 2013
From your involvement with Dunkin' Donuts, what are three things you've learned about Worcester and Central Mass residents that most people don't know?
1. How incredibly generous people that live and work here are. We participate in numerous charitable endeavors, like the December Worcester County Food Bank Drive with WTAG/WSRS, support for Worcester/Shrewsbury based Veterans, Inc., Why Me/Sherry's House and Worcester Firefighters' Box 4 Special Services that provides food, drink, shelter and a bathroom for first responders and victims at disaster scenes. This allows me the privilege to see first hand how all sorts of people in our community come forward with donations and their time to help their neighbors. I was especially humbled to see how Dunkin' Donuts guests from all walks of life helped victims of the tornadoes and the severe ice storms in recent years when folks lost everything from power for days and weeks, to their entire houses. It was inspirational.
2. That Worcester has the necessary ingredients to reinvent itself with the renaissance we are now seeing bear fruit, just as Providence did, but in a more financially viable and measured way. We have the deep talent pools needed, from extremely skilled tradespeople and cutting edge researchers and high tech companies to quality colleges and universities and immigrant communities, that deliver new blood and ideas to the area every year. We have a great stock of beautiful historic structures and a vibrant arts and culinary community that make this a fantastic place to live, on a very manageable scale for folks of all economic levels. The best part of being a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee is that we get to interact with folks from each of these areas every day.
3. I am just the public face of a very talented family that works hard together as a team, and I've noticed that so many of the other successful enterprises in the region are built and operated the same way. People in this area are able to combine their talents and cooperate to create things that are greater than the sum of their parts. Washington, DC could take a lesson from Worcester.
The people who live here don't want to pull up stakes and leave, even when the economy has suffered. Sure, when we get two feet of snow, people always joke that as soon as Jet Blue comes here that they are buying one way tickets south, but they will be here the next winter happily making the same joke.
Wow, most days are different except that I am a husband and father. Tasks run the gamut from working behind a Dunkin' Donuts counter to negotiating a lease or attending a closing or a board meeting.
What are the challenges?
There are many, but the toughest seem to be new proposed laws and regulations that are well-intended, but written without the knowledge or life experience necessary to achieve the result intended. Most people in government who do this are are truly trying hard to do the right thing, and often don't realize how much business owners agree with them. If we had more input and collaboration up front, I think that our society would move forward much more smoothly.
Tell us something nobody knows about you.
That I am a recovering attorney.
Role Models: My parents and my in-laws. Each were immigrants or the child of immigrants, worked hard and sweated to save and start their own businesses. They made sure to bring plenty of others along with them on their long, slow and hard roads to success. They provided an excellent example with their actions, which is probably the highest praise that anyone one can get.
Favorite Restaurant: I've had an advance taste of the soon to open Volturno at 72 Shrewsbury St., owned by my brother-in-law, Greg Califano. Trust me, it'll become your favorite place, too. For drinks and/or dessert, Sweet on Shrewsbury St. There's no other place like this.
Best Place to People Watch: Where else? Dunkin' Donuts--you see EVERYBODY, from the mayor and bank presidents to hungover college kids in their PJs, all at the same time.
Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: An older one that I read to remind me of bubbles and the fatality of hubris: Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron, by Robert Bryce.
Advice for the Next Rob Branca: Get out and meet others in your community and don't be shy. I've never had another person here tell me that they didn't have time to answer a few questions, give advice or to be a sounding board for a few ideas.
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