2023 Recognition Awards

The CFA’s Recognition Awards celebrate individuals and franchise systems for their outstanding achievements, philanthropic endeavours, and contributions to the franchise community.

There are seven categories to this award. CFA members can enter or can be nominated.

The CFA Recognition Awards celebrate individuals and companies for their significant achievements and continuous contributions to the franchise community. Franchising is a collaborative effort involving the support of one another in reaching our goals. The esteemed CFA Recognition Awards celebrate the dedication and commitment of individuals and companies who have contributed to the growth and strength of the Canadian franchising community and for their ongoing commitment to Growing Together®. We congratulate all the winners on their outstanding achievements.

Sherry McNeil, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Franchise Association.

Winners of the awards were revealed at the CFA’s Recognition Awards Luncheon during the CFA National Convention on April 2, 2023, at the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Here are this year’s Recognition Awards Winners:

Distinguished Franchise Support Service/Supplier (available to Franchise Supplier Professionals & Companies): Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

In recognition of Cassels Brock & Blackwell’s exceptional efforts and contributions in supporting the Canadian franchise community through extraordinary involvement in CFA advocacy and education programs.

Since joining the CFA in 1997, Cassels Brock & Blackwell has been an active participant in various CFA committees, including the CFA Board of Directors, CFA Franchise Law Day Committee, Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee, National Convention Committee, Nominations, BC Labour Relations Board Committee, the Changing Workplaces Review Task Force, Education Advisory Committees, and spearheading innumerable subcommittee and task forces supporting CFA’s advocacy and government relations on behalf of the Canadian franchise community. Their involvement in these committees has demonstrated their commitment to advancing the Canadian franchise industry and the CFA at large.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell has also contributed significantly to the CFA’s educational programming, regularly speaking at events and contributing articles. They have also assisted a large number of CFA members in navigating through the franchising process, providing expertise in disclosure documents, franchise agreements, trademarks, and more. Their support of the CFA’s Franchise Your Business seminar series has been invaluable, providing aspiring franchisors with the necessary tools and knowledge to become successful.

Their involvement in CFA advocacy has been instrumental in advancing legislation that supports the franchise industry, such as the Temporary Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account and Top Up funding, Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Common Employer.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell also supports the CFA’s programming year-round as a CFA National Sponsor.

Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award (available to Franchise Systems Professionals & Companies): Pizza Pizza Limited.

In recognition of Pizza Pizza Limited’s exceptional leadership and contribution towards promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the franchising community in Canada.

Pizza Pizza Limited is deeply honoured to be recognized as this year’s CFA Diversity and Inclusion Champion. We are proud that our customers, our franchisees and our corporate staff have always been reflective of Canada’s unique and diverse culture and we appreciate our role as a valuable business opportunity for new Canadians. In 2022 we launched our new Everybody Deserves Pizza brand campaign to help articulate this shared connection with our diverse customer base and we have been extremely pleased with the response coast to coast. Thank you again for this recognition.

Chuck Farrell, Vice President, Franchising & People at Pizza Pizza Limited 

Pizza Pizza is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging, and has made significant strides towards ensuring meaningful representation and dismantling barriers to economic opportunity for all, including Black, Asian and other racialized communities, Indigenous peoples, members of the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, and women.

Pizza Pizza’s workforce currently consists of 60% racialized persons and 37% gender diverse individuals, which is a testament to their commitment to diversity and inclusion in their workplace.

In 2021, Pizza Pizza signed the BlackNorth Initiative pledge to address the concerns and needs of their diverse employees and increase equity for all. This pledge is a demonstration of Pizza Pizza’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society. Through this pledge, Pizza Pizza is committed to addressing, honestly and head-on, the concerns and needs of our diverse employees and increase equity for all, including, but not limited to, Black, Asian and other racialized communities in Canada, Indigenous peoples, members of the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, and women.

That same year, Pizza Pizza established a partnership with the BlackNorth Initiative to continue their work towards diversity and inclusion. They have also created their first Diversity and Inclusion Council, which leads the charge in fostering organizational change through establishing, leading, and monitoring D&I activities internally and externally. The Council holds the company accountable to its goals and ensures that diversity and inclusion remain at the forefront of the company’s priorities.

Hall of Fame Award (available to Franchise Systems only): Yum! Brands

In recognition of Yum! Brands’ outstanding performance over many decades in the Canadian franchise community; demonstrating exceptional business performance, leadership, and growth.

KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are thrilled to accept the Canadian Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame award on behalf of Yum! and our 100 + Franchisees from coast to coast.  Together, we’re building the world’s most loved, trusted, and fastest-growing restaurant brands in partnership with the best Franchise Operators in the business. We’re extremely proud of our Franchise Partners and their Restaurant Team Members who bring our brands to life each and every day – serving up craveable experiences over the Bucket, Box and Bell.  This award recognizes their dedication, not only to our Recipe for Good Growth and the exceptional results they are delivering, but also their commitment to building a world with more Yum! through our unique culture grounded in innovation, inclusion and growth.

Catherine Tan-Gillespie, President and General Manager, KFC Canada, Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands has been serving customers in Canada through their iconic banners of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell for over 65 years through 630 plus restaurants. As a global leader in the quick service restaurant category, operating in 290 countries with over 55,000 locations and over a million franchise system employees, Yum! Brands has truly made its mark on franchising in Canada and around the world. In 2022, Yum! Brands experienced 8% system sales growth, 4% same-store sales growth, 6% unit growth, and over $5.900 Billion in total system sales.

Yum! Brands has consistently shown a commitment to excellence and innovation, as evidenced by their recognition as one of the Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders in North America and their inclusion in the inaugural Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. The company’s restaurant brands – KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell – are leaders in their respective categories, and their dedication to sustainability and corporate citizenship has earned them a spot on the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index, 3BL Media’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2022, Newsweek’s Most Responsible Companies, and the 2022 CFA Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award.

Lifetime Achievement Award (available to Franchise System and Franchise Supplier Professionals): Peter H. Thomas

In recognition of his exceptional and significant contribution and commitment to franchising in Canada and abroad; demonstrating vision, leadership, and excellence throughout his career.

Peter H. Thomas is a true visionary and leader who has demonstrated exceptional achievement and contribution to the Canadian franchising industry throughout his career. He is a former Chairman of Century 21 Real Estate Canada Ltd., which became the largest real estate network in the country under his guidance. When he sold the company in 1987, the company had $9 billion in annual sales and employed over 8,000 sales representatives with over 400 franchises, making it the largest real estate network in the country at that time.

In 2011, Thomas founded Thomas Franchise Solutions, a private equity firm that invests in and develops businesses in North America with franchising as their core expansion strategy. His leadership and vision have helped to grow his portfolio company, Dogtopia, from 20 franchises to over 185 locations across Canada and the United States, with an additional 160+ franchises in the pipeline to open in the next 24 months, and $65 million in revenue.

Throughout his career, Peter Thomas has been recognized for his excellence, leadership, and influence in the industry with several distinguished awards, including the 2011 Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from Royal Roads University, the 2007 Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 1998 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Pacific Region, to name a few.

Peter Thomas is also a mentor and ambassador for franchising, regularly speaking at events, authoring articles, and serving as a role model to others in the industry. He has made significant contributions to the Canadian franchising community, demonstrating exceptional achievement and commitment.

Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award (available to Franchise Systems only): Mary Brown’s Chicken.

In recognition of Mary Brown’s Chicken’s demonstrated commitment to community, hospitality, youth, and generosity

It is an honour to be recognized with the Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award. Since Mary Brown’s inception in 1969, giving back and supporting our communities has been our way of life. It is actually one of 3 core brand values and it is embraced by our staff and our Franchisees. It is also celebrated every year through our CEO award. We proudly support BGC Canada as our national corporate charity but we are also extremely active at the local level. It’s just the right thing to do !

Hadi Chahin, CEO, MBI Brands

Mary Brown’s Chicken is a home-grown, Canadian-owned franchise system that has demonstrated a genuine and ongoing concern for the community, and has shown a strong commitment to supporting social service groups. The brand has made a significant impact on the communities in which they serve through their philanthropic efforts.

The brand is proud to be the official national corporate partner to BCG Canada (formerly Boys and Girls Club) in support of BCG’s mission of helping all children and youth reach their full potential, inspired by their slogan: Opportunity Changes Everything. Mary Brown’s proudly stands behind BGC’s mandate to provide safe, supportive places where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, and develop the skills they need to succeed.

Through their partnership with BCG, Mary Brown’s Chicken has donated $150,000; helped launch

BCG’s “Youth of the Year” program, a national initiative celebrating youth leadership and achievement at Clubs across Canada, as the program’s key supporter; hosted BCG’s second annual BCG Fundraising Day; and donated $2.00 from every meal, combo and feast in support of BGC Canada.

Their contributions to society do not stop there. The company launched an initiative in 2022 to bring Ukrainian refugees to Canada and raised funds to support Hurricane Fiona flood victims in Newfoundland & Labrador. They also provided hundreds of food drops across Canada during the pandemic to support front-line workers. These examples demonstrate Mary Brown’s Chicken’s commitment to social causes and their eagerness to give back to their communities.

Mary Brown’s Chicken encourages franchisees to get involved in their local communities and make a difference. The company is open about how all prospective franchisees are screened for their genuine compassion and willingness to make community involvement a priority in their stores. This integration into the corporate culture and profile given to the support recipient organizations makes Mary Brown’s Chicken an ideal recipient for this award.

Sustainability is also a core value for Mary Brown’s Chicken. They believe in doing their part to make the world a better place for future generations, and their fundraising and community involvement efforts reflect that commitment. Mary Brown’s Chicken has demonstrated innovation in how funds are raised and has proven that they make a significant impact on the community.

Mary Brown’s Chicken’s efforts have had a demonstrated benefit to the community. Through their initiatives, they have made a significant impact on the lives of those in need, both locally and nationally. The amount of funds raised and the integration into the corporate culture further demonstrate their commitment to philanthropy and social responsibility.

Volunteer Leadership Excellence Award (available to Franchise System and Franchise Supplier Professionals): Kirk Allen, Reshift Media Inc.

In recognition for his dedication and contributions in volunteer leadership, as a CFA ambassador, and service to the CFA member community. Over the past decade, Kirk has been an active volunteer with the CFA, contributing to the association in many ways.

It is such an honour to receive this award and I am humbled and truly grateful for this recognition. The entire team at Reshift Media recognizes the enormous contributions and unwavering dedication that the CFA team provides to the franchise community in Canada, it proves a great inspiration to us! I’m thrilled I can simply carry the ball a few yards every now and then to help support and grow the franchise community in Canada. Many, many thanks!

Kirk Allen, COO Co-Founder, Reshift Media Inc.

Since becoming a CFA member in 2013, he has served as a National Sponsor, member of the Board of Directors, Chair of the FSS Committee, member of the Executive Committee, and member of the Renewal Committee. In recognition of his efforts, Kirk was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Franchise Support Service/Supplier Award.

Kirk is a strong advocate for community-building and has created several programs to help new members learn and understand how to engage with other suppliers, network and create relationships with fellow members to facilitate future business opportunities. He is an ambassador for the CFA’s onboarding program, serving as a mentor to new members and always offering to connect with them to see how they are doing and how he can help.

Kirk regularly contributes articles and speaks at numerous CFA events each year. His contributions have been significant, and he has assisted in some of the CFA’s lobbying efforts on legislation which impacts the greater community. Reshift Media, Kirk’s company, has built all of the CFAs website properties, demonstrating his commitment to the franchise industry in Canada.

For his tireless work, commitment to the industry, and dedication to volunteer leadership, Kirk Allen is a deserving recipient of the Volunteer Leadership Excellence Award.