After growing the company to $2 billion over the last 21 years, Buffalo Wild Wings’ CEO Sally Smith is moving on. The chain was recently acquisitioned by Arby’s Restaurant Group in a move that created a new restaurant chain company called Inspire Brands. Although Smith’s vision helped propel Buffalo Wild Wings to 1200 individual restaurant locations, her decision to leave allows both Inspire Brands and Smith to take steps toward further growth.
The company’s stock price jumped to an astonishing 15 times its initial value in the years after the company went public in 2003. However, recent stagnant numbers have prompted investors, and in particular Marcato Capital Management, to explore a franchise-based model of business. The investment group, who owns ten percent of Buffalo Wild Wings stock, won three seats on the board of the company after Smith announced her retirement last year. Marcato’s managing partner Mick McGuire says he is excited to spearhead some progressive changes in the transition.
Smith, it seems, also has her eyes set on the future. After receiving $5 million from Inspire Brands’ acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings and maintaining a seat on the board of several organizations, including Allina Health System, most folks would be content to just coast into retirement. Not Smith. Instead, after leaving her current CEO position, she plans to join the board of Minnesota-based Digi International, Inc.
Digi is a producer of modems and routers, which seems a world apart from the restaurant business. But as their “smart solutions” operations focus primarily on monitoring perishable goods, Smith’s experience is proving to be invaluable. With the addition of Smith, Digi aims to surpass the $181 million in revenue seen in 2017. As Buffalo Wild Wings moves into its new era as a part of Inspire Brands and Smith begins her tenure in the tech industry with Digi International, both powerhouses appear unstoppable!