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  • CHRISTINE A. SPECHT

    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

    Christine Specht grew up with Cousins Subs — the sub sandwich chain her dad, Bill Specht, founded with his cousin two years before she was born. Before taking on the role of Cousins’ human resources manager in 2001, Specht worked as a staff member of the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2008, she became the President and Chief Operating Officer of Cousins Subs and in 2015 assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer following her father's retirement. In this role, she successfully brought new life to a legacy brand by leading a series of system changes. These include a largescale rebranding strategy to establish consistency and unify the brand in look and feel across all locations, implementation of grills in all restaurants, and inclusion of Cousins’ Midwest heritage throughout its menu with signature local products including subs served with all Wisconsin cheeses. Under Specht’s leadership she strengthened Cousins’ unit-level economics, created a strong core of franchise partners, and positioned Cousins for growth in the Midwest. In January 2019, Specht transitioned from her dual role to narrow in on her responsibilities as CEO. In this role, she remains the visionary for the brand focused on continuing a strong culture throughout Cousins’ system and leading growth and business strategy.

    Specht earned a bachelor's degree in criminology and law studies from Marquette University. While she worked toward her master's degree in public administration from American University in Washington, D.C., she spent time in the human resources departments of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington. Specht serves on Concordia University’s Wisconsin Board of Regents, is the Chair of Concordia University’s Wisconsin Foundation Board, the Vice Chair of The Management Association (MRA) and is the President on Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation board. She has also committed nine years of service to both the Lutheran Living Services and Community Memorial Hospital. Specht has received the Cum Deo award from the Lutheran High School Association in 2017 in honor of her Christian service and accomplishments in business. In 2018, Specht was honored as one of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence and recognized in Fast Casual magazine’s “Women in the Lead” series.

  • jason westhoff

    PRESIDENT

    Jason Westhoff joined Cousins Subs in July 2012 as Chief Financial Officer responsible for accounting and finance with a heavy involvement in defining and developing technology strategies into executable and measurable results. In this role, Westhoff’s focus was on Cousins’ growth strategy through organic and inorganic channels. He also developed systems to achieve greater profitability while he oversaw the implementation of a new point-of-sale across the brand. As a result of Westhoff’s proven leadership and expertise, in January 2019 he assumed the role of President of Cousins Subs. In addition to executing the CEO’s vision for the brand and making the day-to-day business decisions, his core responsibilities are to develop systems, build efficiencies, and lead teams to execute core objectives.

    As a former CFO for a large multi-unit franchisee of Applebee’s and Pizza Hut, he brings more than 10 years of prior franchising experience to Cousins Subs. Westhoff also has 25+ years of financial and business experience from his time working in financial services, home improvement services, manufacturing, recruiting, and software development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in management from Luther College, an MBA from Northern Illinois University, and he’s completed an executive M&A program with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal's 2015 CFO of the Year award and currently serves on Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation and COA Youth & Family Centers boards.

  • Joe ferguson

    VICE PRESIDENT OF DEVELOPMENT

    Joe Ferguson has been with Cousins Subs for 14 years and has more than 20 years of experience in the field of business. In June 2011, he assumed the role of vice president of development and has since spent his time reinventing the brand. Over the past five years, the company has focused on raising average unit volumes at all of its locations, closed stores that no longer follow brand standards, and developed a store remodeling program to reimage all locations. In his current role, he introduces potential franchisees to Cousins Subs and works with them through all phases of franchising including site acquisition, lease negotiations, in-store design, and construction. His leadership and experience has helped entrepreneurs in realizing their dream of owning their own business. Ferguson holds a degree in real estate and finance from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and he currently serves on the Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation board.

  • justin mccoy

    VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING

    Justin McCoy joined Cousins Subs in January 2006 as an entry-level marketing specialist and held several marketing positions before being named vice president in May 2013. He is responsible for managing advertising agency relationships, developing national promotion calendars, and creating system-wide strategic initiatives related to advertising, marketing and public relations. McCoy brings over 13 years of restaurant industry experience to Cousins Subs as well as more than four years in public and media relations with the Milwaukee Bucks and several years in the finance industry. McCoy also serves on the Cousins Make It Better Foundation and Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation Board of Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Cardinal Stritch University.

  • JJ Grube

    VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE

    JJ Grube began his career at Cousins Subs in January 2017 as the Director of Finance; however, he’s no novice to the restaurant industry. He gained more than 15 years of restaurant experience holding various roles with Applebee’s and later leading the financial and operations analytics team as the Senior Financial Analyst for the largest restaurant franchisee in Wisconsin. He briefly exited the industry as he pursued a five-year finance career at SABMiller, but continued consulting for restaurant companies during that time. This experience provides Grube with the perspective and knowledge needed to successfully implement reporting structures to better advise leadership team members of financial opportunities as well as new reporting systems to improve the management of restaurant food cost and labor. He’s used this skillset to improve Cousins’ corporate store prime margin performance by 1.5 percent of sales. In January 2019, Grube joined Cousins’ leadership team as Vice President of Finance in which he oversees the finance team and continues to support corporate operations. Grube holds a Bachelor of Arts in accounting from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. He currently serves on Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation board.

  • J.J. PALMERT

    DIRECTOR OF FRANCHISE SALES

    J.J. Palmert joined Cousins Subs development department in January 2013 as franchise sales manager. In this role, his core focus was on evaluating and renewing existing franchise agreements and working to exit those franchises that did not meet brand standards. J.J. has successfully renewed or transferred more than 50 franchise agreements throughout his tenure in which he secured each brand partner’s commitment to reinvest through the adoption of Cousins’ remodeling program. These efforts have led to higher Average Unit Volumes throughout the system.

    Palmert is currently engaged in the expansion of Cousins Subs into new Midwest markets through multi-unit franchise development. He works with franchise candidates to see if Cousins is the right investment opportunity and to identify the ideal territory for development. Additionally, he works with existing franchisees to assist them in developing new locations, acquiring existing locations or selling their locations.

  • Alan Lundeen

    SENIOR DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & TALENT

    Alan Lundeen started with Cousins Subs in April 1988 as the Director of Corporate Operations in which he spent 13 years overseeing a team of Area Directors and 40 corporate restaurants. In 2001, Lundeen pursued a career as the National Director of Talent Management for the largest wine and spirits distributor in North America. There he was responsible for all facets of the employee life cycle including talent acquisition, onboarding, and performance management. His reach included the professional development of more than 1,500 employees in 25 states. Due to his leadership in this role, he received the first Vision Award for his success in improving company culture and employee engagement.

    Equipped with a strong background in operations, culture, sales, and talent management, Lundeen returned to Cousins in June 2018 and was promoted to serve on the leadership team in January 2019 as the Senior Director of Operations and Talent. His focus is on leading the corporate operations team while recruiting and developing talent. He also brings a wealth of human resources knowledge and has his Senior Certified Professional designation through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP).

    Lundeen holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational leadership from St. Thomas University in Florida as well as an Associate of Science in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin. He has also received his AchieveGlobal certification’s in training, adult learning techniques, and leadership and customer service programs as well as is a Level 1 Sommelier within the Court of Master Sommeliers. Lundeen currently serves on Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation board.

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