MVP Roland Spongberg gives back

Last name: Roland spongberg

Title: Founder, CEO

Society: WKS Restaurant Group

Units: Denny’s (126), Wendy’s (86), El Pollo Loco (69), Krispy Kreme (40), Blaze Pizza (10)

Age: 69

Family: Married 46 years to my amazing wife Sandee; 6 children and 16 grandchildren

Years in franchise: 34

Years in current position: 34

Roland Spongberg, the MVP (Most Valuable Performer) of the Noble Cause Award 2020, has a long list of accomplishments.

Its WKS restaurant group in Cypress, Calif. Employs more than 10,000 people at more than 300 locations, most of them in the western United States. It is the largest franchisee of the El Pollo Loco and Krispy Kreme systems. His company is also Wendy’s largest franchisee in California. In July, Spongberg was named Orange County Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. But it was his generosity that distinguished him for the Noble Cause MVP Award.

WKS is committed to serving and giving back to those in need, donating over $ 158,000 per year, and has raised over $ 3.2 million to date through fundraising for supporting more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations nationwide. His company also supports many local charitable initiatives, including the Dave Thomas Foundation; (RED); the National Breast Cancer Foundation; The Salvation Army; No starving child; and Centraide.

A few notable causes Spongberg recently became involved with helped make him the recipient of this year’s award: WKS raised over $ 28,000 to benefit three young girls who survived a violent attack that left three dead ; completed 30 different restoration projects at historic Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles; raised nearly $ 10,000 in just 6 hours for shooting victims; and raised $ 16,000 for the family of a deceased local police officer.

With a track record like this (and we’ve only scratched the surface), it’s easy to see why Spongberg was selected as the 2020 Noble Cause MVP.


Influences / formative events: I served a 2 year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1972-1974). The mission taught me discipline, a lot about people, service, love and faith in God.

Hardest lesson learned: Debt is a double-edged sword. This can play a huge role in the growth of a business and it can be disastrous if you let it make you forget your ski tips.

Favorite business books? Good to excellent: why some companies are taking the plunge … and others not by Jim Collins.


Management method or style: Collaborative. Start by hiring great people, then work with your team to make the big decisions.

Biggest challenge: Currently staffing our restaurants.


What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business? The type or design of our restaurants has proven to have the greatest impact on the success of the pandemic. Restaurants without drive-thru saw a dramatic drop in sales, while those with a drive-thru saw significant increases in sales.


What innovations have you created and used to build your business? One of the things that makes WKS unique is that we have a software team that has created accounting and reporting applications, human resource workflow applications, and we specialize in integrating all the systems that we use together to help us evolve effectively.

How important is community engagement to you and your business? We love to participate in community events and help out as needed, whether it’s raising money for local charities, feeding firefighters during a fire, or helping out a day of sales for a family struggling with an event. tragic.

What leadership qualities are most important to you and your team? Teamwork, integrity, loyalty, service and victory. These are our values ​​and we live and run our business by them.


Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? Two ways: same store sales compared to last year, and total number of restaurants.

Visionmeter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? We work on a list of strategic priorities each year to help run better, more efficient restaurants. We don’t have a specific plan as to where we want to be. We typically build 6-8 new restaurants per year and look for acquisition opportunities as they arise.

What are you doing to take care of your employees? When I had six restaurants, I told myself that I had to retire from the restaurant business and get into human relations. I had learned that it is the people who will drive and improve the restaurants. I believe our mission statement sums it up: “We win by making our customers happy and our employees more successful than they ever thought possible. We help the right people learn to lead, serve and make a difference.

What type of exit strategy do you have in place? I have spent the last 4 years developing a framework to allow this family business to last until the second, third and fourth generations.

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