The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report presents the 21st Century Business Forum, a monthly series featuring America's top business minds and thought leaders, sponsored by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and Home Bank.
Former NBA player Ulysses 'Junior' Bridgeman accomplished the amazing task of turning his $350,000 salary into $600 million. To prepare himself for life after basketball, Mr. Bridgeman spent his offseason working at a local Wendy’s drive-through to learn the business model of fast food restaurants. It was the beginning of a franchising empire: By the time he retired, he had already purchased three Wendy’s.
Eventually, Mr. Bridgeman was the 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 during his tenure 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.
Mr. 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.
If you’re a current or aspiring entrepreneur, we know you’ll benefit from the Library’s FREE resources for businesses including Gale Entrepreneurship articles, Newsbank, EBSCO, Sage Researcher and more! Visit the Digital Library at ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary to explore.