UDM to honor alumni with Achievement Awards, April 11
This spring, University of Detroit Mercy will host the inaugural University-wide celebration, "Spirit of UDM: Alumni Achievement Awards," on Friday, April 11, 2014. The new event will honor a distinguished alumnus/a from each college and school with an Alumni Achievement Award. Emil Brolick ’69, ’72 is the award recipient from the College of Business Administration.
Brolick is one of the masterminds of branding and strategy in the fast food business. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from U of D and started his business career in the auto industry, working in marketing, corporate development, finance and investor relations for Chrysler Corp. and later at Copeland Corp. But the fast food industry was sizzling, and he left manufacturing to take a position at Ponderosa.
“That was the start of a fabulous career for me. Food service is a very dynamic and exciting business,” says Brolick.
In 1988, Wendy’s needed a strategic leader who could bolster sales. Brolick was their choice. He served in numerous capacities. As senior vice president of New Product Marketing, Research and Strategic Planning, Brolick was a key part of the turnaround team. Their efforts fueled 16 consecutive years of growth for Wendy’s.
During his tenure, he became friends with CEO Dave Thomas, founder of the restaurant chain. He was “a great entrepreneur and a wonderful human being,” Brolick notes.
Based on his success at Wendy’s, Brolick was recruited in 2000 to join Yum! Brands. At that fast food giant, he served as president and chief concept officer of Taco Bell until 2006 and as president of U.S. Brand Building until 2008. He went all the way to the helm, serving as CEO of Yum! Brands and as president of the A&W and Long John Silver’s chains from 2008-2011. Then he retired, but not for long.
Wendy’s needed him back to re-establish the company’s brand identity, realign the strategic vision and upgrade its operations. He became CEO and president of Wendy’s and a member of the company’s board of directors.
“I wanted to honor the memory of Dave Thomas by providing the leadership to return Wendy’s to a position of excellence,” he says.
Since his return, the stock price rose 65 percent in one year. He led the turnaround with his philosophy: “Build a team of great people; customer sales and profits will follow.”
Giving back to the community is another facet of Brolick’s career. He is a trustee of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and chairman emeritus of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition, he and his wife, Maureen, support MIND Research Institute, a nonprofit that teaches science and math to children using musically based software. The couple’s philanthropy and charitable work focus on causes that educate and assist disadvantaged children.
Brolick is a 2008 recipient of UDM’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. Residents of Columbus, Ohio, the Brolicks have two adult children and two grandchildren. They enjoy spending family time at their vacation home in Leland, Mich.
Other 2014 award recipients are:
- School of Architecture – Philip Kinsella ’58, Architect & Managing Principal, KRJDA, LLC Architects
- School of Dentistry – John DiBiaggio, D.D.S. ’58, Former President Tufts University, Michigan State University, University of Connecticut
- College of Engineering & Science – William C. Young, ’64, CEO, Absopure Water Co. and Plastipak Holdings, Chairman, Clean Tech, Inc.
- College of Health Professions – Nancy Susick MSN, RN ’86, Senior Vice President, Beaumont Health System and President, Beaumont Hospital, Troy
- School of Law – Brian Zahra '87, Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
- College of Liberal Arts & Education - Frederick M. Seibert '70, '73, Owner & President, Preece, Inc.