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Do the Math

Subway is the No. 1 franchise in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500. . . for the 11th time. That translates to more than 17,000 locations in 75 countries. Are you impressed yet? We are.

This story appears in the January 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

He speaks easily and calmly when he finds out his franchise system has claimed the top spot on our Franchise 500® for the 11th time. His unassuming demeanor and easy confidence shine through in his conversation--it's easy to forget I'm speaking to a business legend. But as I consider that Fred DeLuca, co-founder and president of Subway Restaurants, has managed to build the largest fast-food franchise in the United States while keeping the company entrepreneurial, I am in awe. DeLuca has been at the helm of the company from the first sandwich in 1965 to the 17,388 restaurants in 75 countries that Subway had at press time.

Still, humility echoes in his answer when I ask DeLuca how he's maintained that day-to-day involvement with Subway, even with its extraordinary growth. He's quick to note the team effort that factors largely in his company's success. "We have all the leadership working hard, working together as a team to improve the organization. It's kind of like getting everybody rowing in the same direction," he says, "That's provided me a great assist--it's not really me running the company so much as a whole team working together to move things in the right direction."

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