photography by Elizabeth Lavin

James A. Flynn

Wingstop’s CEO James Flynn talks about business, branding, and Sunday afternoons.

With CEO James A. Flynn at the helm, Wingstop Restaurants Inc.—the popular chicken wing chain endorsed by Troy Aikman—has seen 11 consecutive quarters of comp store sales increases. Overall sales totaled $118.5 million last year, a 32 percent increase from 2004. The key is expansion: Wingstop opened 61 new units in 2005, putting poultry in the mouths of patrons in 25 states nationwide and landing the Richardson-based company at no. 13 on Restaurant Business’ Top 50 Growth Chains list. The wings aren’t bad, either.

Title/Company: CEO/Wingstop Restaurants Inc.
Tenure: 3.5 years
What was your first job? A junior officer operating a nuclear submarine following graduation from the Naval Academy.
What was your worst job? It wasn’t my worst, but maybe my least best—a sales engineer for a large gas engine compression manufacturer.
If you couldn’t say “the people I work with,” what would you say is the best part of your job? Watching the company grow from 90 units to the more than 520 that are either open, under construction, or have a signed contract today.  Also, the closeness to our “brand partners” (other companies refer to them as “franchisees”).  Watching them grow and develop in our system is fascinating.
What’s the worst part? In franchising, 5 to 6 percent of stores close per year. Watching a hard-working brand partner close their doors is a difficult experience.
On weekends, where would people find you? On Saturday I’m running errands, and on Sunday I’m watching televised sports, especially football.  I was a big Troy Aikman fan even before he became Wingstop’s national spokesman.
What book is currently on your nightstand? I have two—Sea Change by Robert Parker and
The 5th Horseman by James Patterson.
What’s your favorite TV show? Just about anything on A&E or the History Channel.
What’s your most treasured possession? I typically don’t consider them possessions, but I cherish my wife and three daughters.
What’s your biggest regret? One doesn’t come to mind—I just don’t think that way.
What three Web sites do you visit most frequently? Wingstop’s Brand Partner Support System to check comments and receive up-to-the-minute information; Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading trade publication; and Yahoo! for news and search engine capabilities.
What’s the best advice anyone ever told you? Pick a job where you are more excited about
Monday mornings than Friday afternoons.

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