Most domestic companies start their international expansion by staying in the neighborhood, playing it relatively safe by venturing into Canada or maybe Mexico. Moran Family of Brands is taking a different route, one that stretches 5,972 miles from the automotive repair and maintenance franchisor’s Midlothian, Ill., home, all the way to Lagos, Nigeria.
That’s where, this past March, the company broke ground on its first foreign franchise, a 38,000-square-foot facility that will serve as both a cobranded Mr. Transmission/Milex Complete Auto Care shop and headquarters for master franchisees Temi Adelu-Davis and Glen Davis. Temi is a native of Nigeria who came to the U.S. to earn her MBA while Glen ran an auto repair store in Houston. Now relocated to Lagos, the couple will be responsible for operating their shop once it opens this fall as well as recruiting franchisees to open nine more locations throughout Nigeria over the next seven years.
We spoke to Moran’s president, Pete Baldine, about the company’s first foray into a foreign market.
It took 26 years for Moran to go international. Why now? And why Nigeria?
It had more to do with the right people. We’d looked at other international opportunities over the years but never felt comfortable enough to move forward. The Davises actually approached us, and after several months of due diligence, we felt confident that they not only had the financial strength and leadership ability necessary, but that they knew their market.
Why did they choose you?
They had done their research and looked at some of our competitors, but they liked our cobrand option and felt that a “one-stop shop” strategy was right for Nigeria.
Did you have to make any adjustments to your system?
Because parts sourcing is limited in Nigeria, we’re making their facility larger than normal so they can warehouse parts there to supply future franchise locations. We also modified our training program, adding an entire week to teach them how to award franchises, get them open and support the franchisees.
What’s in store for the future?
The Nigerian deal got the inertia going. Now we’re ready to continue that international movement. We’re already working on a deal to sign another master franchisee in Liberia, and we’ve signed on with two brokerage groups to help us expand in Europe and the Middle East.
This story appears in the 2016 issue of Entrepreneur