Athlete-Turned-Exec Talks About Leadership

Junior BridgemanNEW ORLEANS — Former NBA player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman talks about his rise to success as a business owner during the December episode of 21st Century Business Forum webcast.  

This webcast, titled “Nothing But Net: Scoring Big in Business,” will broadcast at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8. Registration is free.

Bridgeman turned his $350,000 salary into $600 million. To prepare himself for life after basketball, he spent his offseason working at a local Wendy’s drive-through to learn the business model of fast food restaurants. By the time he retired, he had already purchased and was operating three locations.

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Eventually, Bridgeman became owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants. His companies received several prestigious awards, including the Diamond Award (most effective neighborhood marketer), the Wendy Award (exemplary performance by a franchisee), the Founder’s Award (recognizing operational excellence by a franchisee), the Jim Near Legacy Award (for employer of choice) and the Hall of Fame Award (for overall achievement) from Wendy’s International, and the Franchisee of the Year Award (2012) and the Chili’s Sales Award (2015) from Brinker International. 

Bridgeman is now a bottler for the Coca-Cola Company, serving as the president and CEO of Heartland Coca-Cola, running a production plant in Lenexa, Kansas, and 18 distribution centers with his son, Justin. He also recently purchased the iconic Jet and Ebony magazines.

The 21st Century Business Forum is presented by Biz New Orleans and is sponsored by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, EO Louisiana and the University of Holy Cross. Registration is free. Click here to register.

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