Harkness Brings Over Two Decades of Experience to the Role
Chris Harkness has been announced as president of Streamline Brands. The swim school franchisor is a portfolio company of Youth Enrichment Brands (YEB). With this role, he will foster Streamline’s growth and report to Justin Hoeveler, Chief Executive Officer of YEB. Harkness brings over two decades of franchise management and store operations experience to the position.
“I am most looking forward to working with a team of passionate and talented leaders who believe in the importance of our mission,” Harkness said.
The father of four was attracted to Streamline Brands because of the opportunity to impart the swimming skills and water safety to children, adults, and families. “Joining this successful team as it continues to grow was something I just could not pass up. Matt [Lane] and Paul [Gerrard] created an incredible foundation that I can help build upon.”
Gerrard, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Streamline Brands, said, “We look forward to welcoming Chris to the Streamline Brands family. His experience in leading both franchise- and company-owned organizations will be of tremendous value as we continue to drive strategies and deliverables that enable water safety and joy from swimming.”
Hoeveler also believes that Harkness is the right person for the job. “Chris is a strong, culturally-driven leader with a proven track record of challenging convention with new perspectives in franchise businesses. He works collaboratively with his teammates to convert these perspectives into meaningful business outcomes.”
To Harkness, Streamline Brands will positively impact the future of franchising by helping new and existing owners achieve their goals. He added that the portfolio company wants to create a positive partnership with each owner and their customers.
The Road to Franchising
Harkness got his start in franchising as a zone leader for 7-Eleven in Virginia and the Carolinas. Throughout his career, he has worked with GameStop, McKinsey & Company, and Home Depot. Most recently, Harkness was president of Aire Serv, a Neighborly company that operates heating and air conditioning franchises across North America.
He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in the submarine service. Harkness loves how franchising values veterans and offers special programs and incentives for them to invest in businesses.
For Franchisee Candidates
Harkness enjoys assisting business owners with their objectives like achieving financial success or growing as leaders. A piece of advice that he offers to candidates is to reach out to other owners. He finds franchise owners to be incredibly collaborative and willing to share their experiences.
About Streamline Brands
Streamline Brands was formed in 2005 and has expanded to a portfolio company with over 250 swim schools across 34 states, according to a press release. Franchises under the Streamline Brands umbrella are SafeSplash Swim School, Saf-T-Swim, Swimtastic Swim School, SwimLabs Swim School, and Miller Swim School. Streamline is majority owned by Roark Capital, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.
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