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Jami Salyers, on the far left, joins her team with a significant donatiopn to United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona

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And She Rises...

Jami Salyers Climbed the Arby's Corporate Ladder, From Crew Member to the Executive Suite

Like many teenagers, Jami Salyers’ first job was in Quick Service restaurants at a local Taco Bell. Unfortunately, after a cheerleading injury, she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to work on the crew any longer because her foot was in a cast.

While helping at a Palo Verde High School cheerleading fundraiser at Arby’s, she jokingly asked the owner if he’d give her a job. Salyers recalled, “I was chatting with the owner and I pointed at my cast and asked, would you hire me? He said absolutely!”

Little did she know that Arby’s would become the foundation of her present 30-year career. Promoted to shift leader while still in high school, she constantly asked when she could move up. By the age of 18, she was promoted to assistant manager. Still yearning for more, she started asking when she’d manage her own restaurant. Not long after, she was named general manager, a position she held for 10 years.

The franchise owner, who owned all but two of the Arby’s located in Southern Arizona, came to rely on Salyers for her strategic vision and tactical know-how. But when the owner sold the restaurants to another company, Cardinal RB Arizona LLC, Salyers feared she might not have a role under the new ownership.

“The new owners brought us into the new decade,” she said. “And I had more of a voice in decision-making and overall operations of the restaurants.”

In 2017, Cardinal RB Arizona sold the business to Atlanta-based Irish Beef, LLC, after just 18 months. This left Salyers once again wondering whether she would have a role in the new organization. She needn’t have worried.

Dick Holbrook, managing partner of Irish Beef, quickly named Salyers director of operations. In that role, she managed operations for all eight restaurants in Southern Arizona and was responsible for the development of four new restaurants. This work, which took place over five years, also included the top-down renovation of six restaurants.

Holbrook became a mentor of sorts to Salyers, as well as her biggest supporter. In a press release announcing Salyers’ promotion, Holbrook said, “There is so much to be learned from Jami’s story – her hard work, dedication, loyalty to the brand, and overall leadership is key to the success of the company.” Irish Beef invested time and money not only in the restaurants, but also in its personnel. “They sent me to district manager training and one year later they made me a partner,” Salyers said. In a few years, she was promoted once again, this time to the role of vice president of operations. “Irish Beef believes in training and giving teams what they need,” Salyers said. “We often say we’re in the people business. We’re not just serving our guests, but also serving our team by fostering growth for all individuals.”

Building on this investment in team members, Salyers implemented a management training program for all 13 restaurants, created new incentive plans for restaurant managers, and managed the capital-investment plan to re-envision older restaurants and bring them up to modern design standards. Her efforts resulted in significant sales and profit growth for the company.

Irish Beef recognizes the potential in its team members that others might overlook; it also believes in letting team members pursue the things that matter most to them. For Salyers, this means supporting the local community. “I grew up in Tucson,” Salyers said. “This community and the families who live here mean so much to me. We seek to identify those initiatives most important to these families and make a difference one person at a time.”

This passion led Salyers to develop a robust corporate philanthropic program that, over the past six years, has raised more than $800,000 for a variety of non-profits. These include United Cerebral Palsy of Tucson, the Community Food Bank, Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, Vail Schools, ALS of Southern Arizona, Toys for Tots, and, most recently, the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern Arizona, which assists children with cancer and their families. “Every penny stays in Tucson,” she added.

Salyers is justifiably proud of her accomplishments, including her team-building philosophy within Arby’s, as well as the impact she’s made in the community. But she’s not stopping. “My goal is to continue to give back to Tucson and to inspire young people to find their respective voices and ambition,” she said. “I hope my career path provides them a roadmap.”

About Irish Beef, dba Arby’s Irish Beef is a franchise of Arby’s, focused on developing and operating restaurants in Southern Arizona. Arby’s iconic brand is known for its unique quality of food, the restaurant environment, and its commitment to serving people. As part of their “Arby’s Cares” program, the franchise is devoted to supporting local communities through donations to various cause-related organizations, aspiring to be a force for good in Tucson and Sierra Vista.

"We often say we’re in the people business. We’re not just serving our guests, but also serving our team by fostering growth for all individuals."

  • Jami Salyers, on the far left, joins her team with a significant donatiopn to United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona
  • Jami Salyers today, leading change and developing her crews