“You can be ambitious, you can be focused, you can be driven, you can be a goal setter and a goal getter, and all these things, but you can still love well through the process. That’s what I would say we’re attempting to do.”
Fortified by family and faith, Chaz Wolf leapt, without a parachute, from the position of Senior Sales Manager for Home Advisor and purchased his first Edible Arrangements franchise in December of 2102 in Overland Park, Kansas. Three and a half years later, Chaz’s rapid expansion netted him his seventh store in Pensacola, Florida. Along the way, he opened the Wichita, Kansas market to Edible Arrangements by establishing his west and east locations in 2015 and 2016. He also has locations in midtown Kansas City, Missouri, and Lenexa and Prairie Village in Kansas. In June of 2013, Ingram’s named Chaz to its 20 in Their Twenties list.
Drive and teamwork
Chaz credits his expansion to his drive and his team. “I’m created to be who I am. This is how I operate…The expansion, pressing all boundaries, is always something that burns in me.” He learned from his single mother “how to never give up, how to never quit, how to do whatever it takes, to work until the end, figure it out, be creative—all these things.” But he doesn’t take all the credit. His team is essential to his success. “I will be the first to say that I have not done any of this on my own. … The faster that we’ve gone the more vital these people are.” “These people” are Chaz’s forty-five employees, five managers, and two district managers.
Growing quickly and improving the top line creates challenges that have to do with employees; developing people is one of Chaz’s top priorities. Creating a team and a place they want to work is essential. “Caring about your people, putting a place where they can have fun and enjoy who they’re working with, and loving the product … is a benefit where they know they’re celebrating with other people … there’s all kinds of ways we’ve developed that.”
Developing people is intense, and Chaz is an intense guy. He finds the right people, invests in them, raises them up, and walks them through any imperfections. He’s okay with letting people make mistakes.
“You have a standard, and you hold people to a standard, but you also have to allow for life, you also have to allow for personality, you also have to allow for … their one hundred percent not looking like yours. … Being realistic is not lowering your standards, it’s working with people, working out the kinks.”
Professional Development and Commitment
Chaz believes in professional development and being committed. After college, he began reading one to two books a month, learning all he could about business all the time. He advises other entrepreneurs to do the same. “What book are you reading? What’d you read last month? What podcast do you listen to on the way to work? … What are you doing to develop yourself? That’s number one. … You always have to be feeding. If you’re not feeding, there’s nothing coming out on this other end.”
Commitment is just as important to Chaz. How you approach your business makes all the difference. You can’t do the job half way. “Number two, I would say: are you in it? Are you like, all the way in? Are you committed? … Are you making it happen? Because as a business owner, … it’s up to you. … The stuff you can control—control.”
Challenges and Joys
The biggest challenges confronting Chaz are seasonal, given the nature of his business. Chaz is concerned for and takes care of his employees. “Valentine’s Day and Mother’s’ Day are extremely intense for us, so it’s hiring extra staff, making sure our core staff is competent and ready to go and fired up and rested. [Then] Papa Chaz comes out and asks them to drink water and get rest and eat right … so that way through that intense time for our business [is] that we’re all on the same page and we can hold each other up.”
Chaz takes pride in building a system where things flow smoothly and work well, especially one that works on the busiest day of the year when the boss is away. In 2013, his first full year of owning his first franchise, Chaz was awarded the Rookie Franchiser of the Year from Edible Arrangements. “Which was awesome for me just … to have a larger scale of recognition of going … ‘we like what you’re doing!’”
Chaz’s faith underpins all he does. “I was designed to be a builder. … From the inside of the inside I know who I am and so that gives me the confidence to go do what I think I need to do. … Knowing that I have … a Father that created me, that designed me to be who I am, that loves me, that gives me full clearance to be the son.”
“I’m created to be this—it’s my inheritance. So I step right into it, I play that into the marketplace, doing ministry in the marketplace. You know, that doesn’t mean I’m talking about Jesus every single day, but that just means I’m loving on people, I’m creating an atmosphere that is welcoming, that is a place for people, whether they share my beliefs or not, that they know that they’re taken care of, that I’ve got their back, and, of course, if the time is right, I’ll share why I do what I do and believe what I believe. But for me it’s a matter of just loving well.”
Q & A with Chaz Wolfe