Most Influential Latinos: Guillermo Perales
By Joe Dyton
With one quick look at the success Guillermo Perales has amassed and it’s easy to see why he’s been named to Latino Leaders’ 101 Most Influential Latinos list again this year.
Guillermo Perales is the chief executive officer and president of Sun Holdings, Inc., which he started with one Golden Corral unit that a Small Business Administration loan funded in 1997. Today, Restaurant Monitor has ranked Sun Holdings, Inc. as the eight largest franchisee in the United States. The company is also the largest Hispanic franchisee in the U.S. with a portfolio that operates more than 800 locations in eight states that includes Burger King, Popeye’s, Arby’s, Golden Corral, Cici’s Pizza, Krispy Kreme, T-Mobile and GNC.
“I’m honored to be named one of the most influential Latinos,” Perales said. “I’ve been on the list before, and I think with the reach of all of the customers and the employees that we have with big brands, it gives us a lot of presence and viability on where we stand. There are not many Hispanics in the franchise areas, and it would be great if more Hispanics were to get involved in franchising.”
Perales credits his passion for his business as key contributor to his success. That passion drives him to keep on top of the inner workings of his business, even if at times it seems like he has everything under control. Today, a lot of Perales’ focus is on securing financing so his company can continue to purchase and develop buildings.
“At the end of the day, it’s fun,” Perales said. “In life, you have to do something that you like and this is something that I like. I find it fun to look for opportunities on what to buy or what to build. I like to grow.”
2006-2018- Latino Leaders Magazine’s 101 Most Influential Latinos
2008- Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year
2009- Latino Leaders Magazine’s Maestro Award
2014- Dallas Business Journal’s Largest North Texas Hispanic Owned Business and Largest North Texas Minority Owned Business
2016- D CEO Magazine’s Latino Executive of the Year
2016- Forbes America’s Top 10 Largest Restaurant Franchisees
2017- NRN’s Top 10 Power List
How Perales has handled adversity has also played into his success. When a store fails, he does not dwell on it, but moves on instead. Perales knows that every investment comes with a risk, and when one does not pay off, he sees it as the cost of doing business and is off to find a better opportunity.
“There’s always challenges, and you should not be bothered by a challenge,” he said. “Sometimes we have a bad store open and if it does not perform, we have to close it and take a loss. We win some, we lose some, but I keep fighting and growing. I try not to be overburdened by a big problem.”
Sun Holding’s Portfolio is proof that the wins have outnumbered the losses. For example, Perales recalled when Arby’s was having a difficult time and decided to buy 60 of their stores. Despite the restaurant being at a low point, Perales was convinced if his team cleaned up the stores and did some remodeling combined with new management and ownership, they could turn them around. Five years later, the stores went from about 700,000 AUB’s to 1 million AUB’s, they built about 23 new stores and remodeled 30 and the company is doing well with them.
“I guess I got a little bit lucky too that we got the brand when it was at its lowest and we’ve been growing with them in all aspects,” Perales said.
“What Guillermo is very good at is identifying something that is not yet successful, but will be,” said Inspire chief development brand officer Greg Vojnovic, who’s also Perales business partner. “He’s great at adding value and working with partners. That’s kind of the secret sauce to Guillermo—his ability to understand how to unlock valuable by identifying something that has not yet become valuable.”
In an effort to bring more Latinos into the franchising industry, on to more Fortune 500 boards and the like, Sun Holdings has both scholarship programs for top students in need of financial support as well as Master of Business Administration (MBA) tuition reimbursement for its employees.
“Why aren’t there more Latinos in franchising?” Perales asked. “At the end of the day, the secret is education. “You can succeed without education, that’s for sure. You could get lucky, but the times of getting lucky without education with so much competition from people all over the world who are well-educated is going to get harder and harder. You really have to educate yourself.”