Kent Dawdy joins GPS as vice president of operations to spearhead the new pizza division after the franchisee acquired 75 Pizza Huts.
GPS Hospitality, which last year was the fastest grower on the Franchise Times Restaurant 200 after increasing sales by more than 70 percent in 2017, will likely improve on its No. 13 ranking as its restaurant portfolio continues to swell. The Atlanta-based franchisee recently added 75 Pizza Hut restaurants to its group that already includes 400 Burger King and Popeyes locations, bringing its footprint to 13 states.
GPS Hospitality CEO Tom Garrett called the addition of a third brand and expansion into new territories “major milestones” for the company, and GPS expects to break the 500-unit mark this year as it eyes other opportunities within Yum Brands, Pizza Hut’s parent company.
“Pizza Hut is a mature and beloved brand with dominance in the space,” said Garrett in an announcement of the deal. “Not only does the brand see value in investing in its people, but also positioning itself as an industry leader with its recent NFL sponsorship, plus innovations with its app and delivery offerings. Our partnership with Pizza Hut is a deliberate move to align ourselves with a brand that reflects our values and business sensibilities.”
The acquisition of the Pizza Huts in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee also brought the addition of Kent Dawdy to GPS as vice president of operations to spearhead the new pizza division. Dawdy most recently worked with Atlanta-based Sterling Restaurants, which operates Shane’s Rib Shacks and Moe’s Southwest Grills. He also spent more than 20 years at Arby’s and held an equity position with KBP foods, a national operator of KFC and Taco Bell restaurants, also under Yum.
Rounding out the GPS Pizza Hut leadership team are Director of Operations Zack Wilcox and Travis Kirkland, who were promoted from district leaders from the company’s Burger King division.
Dawdy noted GPS has become “one of the largest multi-unit franchisees in the United States in just six years,” and added he’s proud to join the team.
“Kent’s years of experience in this competitive industry already have made him an invaluable addition at GPS,” Garrett said. “We’re so fortunate to have him, Zack and Travis leading these restaurant teams and helping to instill our philosophy and dedication in achieving the best guest experience that is so essential to our company’s success.”