In this episode of Undercover Boss, the Philly Pretzel Factory and its CEO Dan DiZio are featured. Philly Pretzel Factory is the fastest growing pretzel company in the world. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Dan DiZio founded the company in 1998 with a college friend. In 2004 the company started to franchise and now have over 200 stores on the east coast.
Dan is going undercover as Michael Downs to get an inside look into how franchisees are running their business. His first stop is in Bridgeton, NJ to work with an underperforming franchisee, Bill. The first job is a delivery to a local business that has a pretzel box. He delivers $4.00 worth of pretzels but it costs him $5.00. Bill says he went to the corporate office for help and got in trouble. He also has a product that the corporate office did not approve and Michael is not happy. Bill is struggling to make ends meet so his product makes him money.
Bill starts to get suspicious about Michael and asks his wife to look at him. She also is suspicious and tells him she thinks he looks like the CEO. Finally Dan breaks cover and tells them he’s the CEO. He tells them he’s upset about the new product. Bill’s wife says they’re struggling and are falling behind on their bills. Dan says they need to ask corporate for help but they tell him they came to him and he offered no help. Later, Dan is emotional because he doesn’t remember meeting them or they’re asking him for help. He feels he’s done a horrible job of protecting them.
Michael’s second stop is in Broomall, PA to train with Marques, a baker. He’s twisting pretzels but isn’t doing a good job. But it’s all a ruse because he knows how to make pretzels. He’s trying to not blow his cover. Marques gets to work at 4:30 am. He has two daughters and they come visit him at the store. He has a great relationship with them but he works 60 hours a week. He wants to own a business so he’s applying for another job to earn more money and get benefits.
The third stop on Michael’s journey is in Downtown Philadelphia to deliver pretzels to kiosks around the city. He’s working with Gino, a delivery guy. The pretzels are delivered with a dolly and the worker walks them around. It’s raining, the pretzels don’t have cover, and the delivery guys don’t have raincoats. Gino is a dancer and teach dance classes. His dream is to be a choreographer. He went to LaSalle and NYU to study accounting but it’s not what he wants to do.
The last stop is in Absecon, NJ to work as the mascot. Michael is dressed as Phill E., a green bug-looking thing. He dances while giving out coupons. He also stops to pose with EMT’s in a photo. Billy is his trainer and he wants to be a cop. Michael realizes the suit is hot and is concerned about employees wearing them. Billy works up to 37 hours a week while attending college. His mother was in the World Trade Center tower when it was attacked. She made it out only to be paralyzed by a driver who ran a stop sign.
He tells Billy he did a good job training him and he wants him to train other people to be the mascot. Dan will pay him for his time plus give him $10,000. He also gives him $10,000 for school and another $10,000 to help his parents.
Michael tells Gino his energy and work ethic is great. He’s also concerned about his safety so Michael is purchasing a van for Gino to drive and deliver pretzels. He’s also paying off Gino’s student loans, around $20,000.
Michael asks for Bill’s forgiveness for letting him down. He gives Bill one month of business training to make money selling pretzels. He also buys him a delivery van so he can use it instead of his car. Bill and his wife will also get a vacation for some time away. The rent for the store will be paid for the next year and they’ll market his product.
He tells Marques the store has thrived since he’s been working there. Michael gives Marques’ kids a college fund with $2,500 each. He will also get health benefits. He’s also opening a kiosk store for Marques and they’ll be 50/50 partners.
Billy’s semester is paid for and is training new mascots; Marques bought a new car and is opening his new kiosk; Gino paid off his student loans; Bill’s product was approved and business is better.
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(Photo Source: University of Washington)