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Forbes said torrid expansion earned Smashburger top honors on its list of America’s Most Promising Companies. Its top 100 ranking is comprised of privately held up-and-comers with compelling business models, strong management teams, notable customers, strategic partners and precious investment capital.
Of the burger chain’s rapid expansion, founder Tom Ryan said he is not yet satisfied with Smashburger’s growth, which he started in 2007.
In the midst of a severe recession his Denver company will have grown to 143 locations (half company-owned, half franchised) and $54 million in annual revenue by the end of 2011. Another 450 franchise agreements are already on the books.
Forbes reports that Ryan and CEO Dave Prokupek, both Midwesterners, are a complementary pairing. They met in 2003 through Rick Schaden, CEO of Quiznos, where Ryan was head of marketing; Prokupek managed the Schaden family fortune.
When they joined forces in 2006, staked with $15 million from Schaden’s private equity group they purchased a single restaurant, Icon Burger, and used it as their laboratory. When they got it right, they opened the first Smashburger in June 2007.
The burger chain is also concentrating on global expansion in the Middle East.