After a disheartening experience in commercial real estate in California, Michael Norwich Jr. moved to El Paso, Texas to work with his father who owned several Jack in the Box restaurant franchises.
He began with the restaurant by learning the basics – making hamburgers and French fries, working the drive-thru and cleaning the restrooms. Within six months, he was given his own store to manage.
Shortly after Michael had begun with Jack in the Box, a Seattle affiliate was linked to an e-coli outbreak that sickened over 500 people. News of the outbreak was so wide spread that the chain experienced revenue declines in excess of fifty percent within a week. The restaurant Michael was managing had its weekly revenues drop dramatically and in order to survive he worked with only one other employee.
The first year loss after the Seattle incident was overcome through assistance from the corporate Jack in the Box and a local lender who agreed to convert the business notes to interest only.
Michael was slowly able to pull the business out of debt. Throughout these difficult years, Michael continued to maintain the image of the restaurants, ensured that he kept the best people on staff, focused on customer service and improved profit margins.
Michael acquired the operation of the business in 1993; he worked to boost revenues by trimming costs and staying lean as sales volume increased and when it came time to expand he turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). With the help of an SBA 504 loan Michael was able to purchase land to construct a new building and acquire equipment. Since that first SBA 504 loan, Michael continues to benefit from the support and assistance from the SBA 504 loan program.
He’s a strong believer in reinventing his business to keep his customers interested and to attract new customers. He now operates 11 restaurants in El Paso and two in Las Cruces, New Mexico with an overall employment of 350 people.
His hard work and determination to maintain his business even through the difficult years and his ability to bounce back and increase sales and employment led to his selection as 2007 State of Texas Small Business Person of the Year.