FORT LAUDERDALE Fla. After receiving an undisclosed capital infusion from Woodbridge Holdings Corp., an investment and holding company, Pizza Fusion, the eight-unit, fast-casual pizza chain, has hired the investment firm’s managing director as its chief executive officer.
Mark Begelman, a former Office Depot president and chief operating officer, was tapped this month to replace as CEO Pizza Fusion’s co-founder Vaughan Lazar, who will transition to president of the chain, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
Terms of the Woodbridge Holdings investment, which closed last month, were not revealed, but a company spokesman said it was “enough funding to take [the chain] through five years of growth.”
Fort Lauderdale-based Pizza Fusion, which is a majority-franchised chain, is pursuing an aggressive growth plan targeting 500 franchises during the next five years. Company officials said it has more than 75 franchises currently in development in 15 states, with 18 locations currently under construction and expected to open during the next three months.
Lazar, who founded the eco-friendly concept with college friend Mike Gordon, said in a statement that Begelman’s “demonstrated expertise in growing businesses will be invaluable … throughout the rapid expansion ahead of us.”
As president Lazar will focus mostly on the company’s environmental initiatives, corporate culture, marketing and philanthropy, the company said.
Begelman was at Office Depot in the early 1990s when the office supply chain grew from 127 units to 460 units and recorded $4.5 billion in revenues, Pizza Fusion noted. After his five-year term as Office Depot’s president and chief operating officer, Begelman founded Mars Music, a musical instrument retailer, and just prior to joining Pizza Fusion was a managing director at Woodbridge Holdings.
Pizza Fusion offers a 75-percent organic menu and delivery service in hybrid cars. It also builds restaurants certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, green building rating system. Woodbridge Holdings, also based in Fort Lauderdale, holds $700 million in assets and focuses on the real estate and middle-market operating companies, according to its website.