Josh Hegeman, a 2022 graduate of the Craig School of Business, was awarded an Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchise in this year’s franchise competition. A management major from Cosby, Missouri, Josh was one of 13 students competing in the senior-level Applied Business Ownership class this spring. Students prepared and presented business plans to a panel of judges that included Steven L. Craig, creator of the franchise competition, and other business leaders.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, and I want to thank everyone who helped me through this journey, everyone here at Missouri Western, thank you for helping build me up to get to this point. I’m so honored to join the family,” said Hegeman.

“This week and this competition is really the highlight of my year,” Craig said. “Helping build America’s future entrepreneurs is really a gratifying experience. I also want to thank the University for its support of the program.”

Pam Klaus, director of the Center for Franchise Development, said, “The chance to be a new business owner right out of college is an incredible opportunity and life changing for our graduates. I know how hard Josh worked throughout the semester and on his plan and presentation to the judges. Now the real work (and fun) begins. I’m excited to watch Josh’s entrepreneurial journey!” 

The franchise awarded to Josh is the 33rd store to be placed through the program. Alumni currently own 55 franchises across the country, employing roughly 600 people and generating annual sales of a little more than $27 million. The program provides initial capital for the stores, which the alumni pay back over five years. The entrepreneurs also receive ongoing support from faculty members, the Craig School of Business Advisory Council, Steve Craig and each other.