Busi­ness duo open first Wal­dorf Smoothie King

They hope to grow into ma­jor chain own­ers

Maryland Independent - - Business - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

From the bas­ket­ball court to the food court, busi­ness part­ners Ryan Whit­field and Shawn Pul­lam keep push­ing to be the best.

The two teamed up in high school on the hard­wood — one a shoot­ing guard, the other a point guard — and they’ve been play­ing off each other ever since. For them, it’s been one ven­ture af­ter an­other since grad­u­at­ing from Cross­land High School in Prince Ge­orge’s County in 1995.

Last Sunday, they opened the first Smoothie King in Wal­dorf, Pul­lam’s adopted home­town since 2003, at 2785 Crain High­way. It’s their third since open­ing the Up­per Marl­boro-Largo lo­ca­tion in June and tak­ing over a Sil­ver Spring lo­ca­tion in July.

“It was real sim­ple: health is very im­por­tant,” Pul­lam said. “We like to be healthy. We work out. We pro­mote health. It was a great thing for us to do [Smoothie King]. It’s not like work; this is our lifestyle. This was a per­fect fran­chise for us.”

“It all started from us be­ing teenagers, and be­ing very com­pet­i­tive in bas­ket­ball and other sports,” Whit­field said of their long­time as­so­ci­a­tion.

“From that point on, we had that com­pet­i­tive edge,” Pul­lam added. “That car­ried over into busi­ness. We want to be the best. We’re try­ing to have the most stores.”

Pul­lam said they’re al­ready look­ing to ex­pand even as they were still putting the fin­ish­ing touches on the Wal­dorf store dur­ing an in­ter­view last week. Staff train­ing was on tap the next day.

“We have a cou­ple of lo­ca­tions we’re look­ing at in the Mary­land area,” Pul­lam said. “How­ever, if op­por­tu­nity presents it­self out­side of Mar yland, Vir­ginia and the Dis­trict of Columbia, we’ll be in­ter­ested in look­ing at it.”

“We haven’t even opened up and I’m al­ready think­ing about the next store,” he added with a laugh.

The em­ployee team will be made up of quite a few high school stu­dents for the late day shifts and week­ends, but not all high school­ers — or col­lege stu­dents, for that mat­ter — can make it onto the team. The two en­trepreneurs re­quire a 3.0 grade point av­er­age of their stu­dent work­ers.

“If you were to meet all our team mem­bers, the av­er­age GPA is like 3.4,” Pul­lam said. “We try to cre­ate this cir­cle, this en­vi­ron­ment of be­ing the best at ev­ery­thing. It’s al­most like an AP class. My son’s in AP English, right, so that’s the high­est English class at that grade.”

“You need a 3.0 just to work here. We want to see re­port cards,” Whit­field added. “We’re the tran­si­tion between end­ing high school and go­ing on to what you want to do in life, whether it be col­lege or whether it be this.”

Pul­lam said they also look for a de­sire to suc­ceed and will make ex­cep­tions for the right peo­ple with an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit.

“If we see that de­sire or that pas­sion, we make them our projects, too,” he said. “We put them through the pipe­line. If they turn around 2.6 [GPA] into a 3.2 or 3.0 the next se­mes­ter, it’s a great feel­ing to watch that.”

Smoothie King is a New Or­leans-based fran­chise founded in 1973 by Steve Kuh­nau, “whose mis­sion was to help oth­ers achieve bet­ter health in a tasty way,” ac­cord­ing to a com­pany news re­lease.

“Smoothie King’s whole con­cept is ‘smooth­ies with a pur­pose,’” Whit­field said. “It fits with what­ever a per­son’s lifestyle is.”

The smoothie menu is bro­ken out into four cat­e­gories: Fit­ness Blends, Slim Blends, Well­ness Blends and Take a Break Blends.

“Fit­ness Blends: they cater to peo­ple who want to work out, put on mus­cle and need more calo­ries,” Whit­field said. “If you needed less calo­ries but want a meal re­place­ment, you’d pick from one of the Slim Blends. If you want more veg­eta­bles, the ones we use are car­rots and kale, we have [Well­ness Blend] smooth­ies based around that. If you just want a healthy snack, we have smooth­ies for that (Take a Break Blends).”

He said any of the blends that have the raw, un­pro­cessed turbinado su­gar added can have that re­moved to re­duce calo­ries by about 100, de­pend­ing on the size. There are also ad­di­tives for boost­ing pro­tein and en­ergy, as well as some­thing called “Diet Down,” which aims to “curb your ap­petite for hours,” Whit­field said. The “Herbal Im­mune” ad­di­tive is geared to­ward help­ing boost the body’s im­mune sys­tem.

“We’re putting things to help you stay healthy in your smooth­ies, with­out chang­ing the taste of the smoothie,” Whit­field said.

While the menu doesn’t in­clude sand­wiches or any other solid foods, the store does sell lines of snack chips, en­ergy bars and pro­tein pow­ders. The lat­ter are pro­pri­etary and come in four dif­fer­ent types de­pend­ing on lifestyle, in­clud­ing the ve­gan “Sun War­rior.”

“The ve­gan pro­tein [pow­der] is made of hemp, cran­ber­ries and peas,” Whit­field said. “I pretty much switch all my smooth­ies to it be­cause I don’t even eat meat. I try to make sure I get that in all my smooth­ies.”

The two en­trepreneurs may have to add “Pure Recharge” — a longterm en­ergy booster ad­di­tive — to their fu­ture smooth­ies if they want to re­al­ize their vi­sion.

“One ven­ture af­ter an­other ven­ture — you just keep learn­ing from each ven­ture,” Pul­lam said. “It’s been in process for the last two years, but we fi­nally opened our first [Smoothie King] door June 26 of this year. Now, this is our third lo­ca­tion. We’re look­ing for more lo­ca­tions. We’ve got to try to be the big­gest.”

STAFF PHOTO BY DAR­WIN WEIGEL

Busi­ness part­ners Ryan Whit­field, right, and Shawn Pul­lam opened the first Smoothie King in Wal­dorf last Sunday. The two cur­rently have three stores and are look­ing to open more.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF RYAN WHIT­FIELD

Busi­ness part­ners Ryan Whit­field, right, and Shawn Pul­lam opened the first Smoothie King in Wal­dorf last Sunday. The two cur­rently have three stores and are look­ing to open more.

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