Firehouse of America CFO Vincent Burchianti: “Once you experience the worst, everything else is easy, as long as you learn from the hard times”

Jason Malki
Nov 14 · 6 min read

You must love what you do when you go to work every day. This love should turn into a passion and what one does during their career, should never be good enough. Continue to learn, stay hungry and share these learnings with staff to further their careers. Be fair in making business decisions and at the same time, make business decisions without emotions. Be a leader and mentor to your young employees and demonstrate how a “boss” should act and lead.


I had the pleasure to interview Vincent Burchianti, Chief Financial Officer, Firehouse of America, LLC (FOA). Vincent protects the core financial model for Firehouse Subs, a frugal company with 2018 revenues of more than $807 million. There were 33 restaurants in the system when he joined the company 18 years ago as Corporate Controller. Since that time, FOA has grown significantly along with Burchianti’s leadership as the brand surpassed 1,150 restaurants in 2018. Vince served as Vice President of Finance and Technology for four years before being promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 2011. Burchianti’s focus is on financial wellness and growth, ensuring Firehouse Subs restaurant owners maximize their return on investment. He also supervises several key franchising divisions, Information Technology, reporting/analytics and the supply chain services department. His hands-on approach safeguards execution of a global franchise development strategy, the digital and technological needs for the company, as well as, the procurement of $276 million in groceries and equipment. A fanatic about food and the restaurant biz, Vince loves family time over a hearty meal, as well as attending his kids’ sporting events.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?

Fresh out of college, I went to work for Arby’s as an accountant for six years, which was a great learning experience working for such a large company. I then added another six years with Miami Subs Grill/Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. With Nathan’s moving their accounting services to Long Island, New York, I decided to leave Nathan’s and move closer to family, landing in Jacksonville, Florida. In Jacksonville, I was very lucky to quickly discover a growing restaurant brand with only 33 locations that was looking to expand their headquarters team. I brought my previous 12 years of experience to Firehouse Subs as Controller and helped grow the brand to more than 1,150 restaurants where I have been the Chief Financial Officer for the past five years.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The conversion from student to a working professional had its share of challenges, especially since Arby’s was moving its corporate offices from Atlanta to Miami Beach at the time of my hire. Basically, we had a brand-new team that needed to learn quickly how to support 2,600 restaurants and how to work together as a team to make that happen.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

In the early days, the drive was the need to help support a new wife and the need to start my career. As the saying goes, one must start somewhere, and with only making $18K per year at Arby’s, my somewhere was at the bottom. But you know, I was happy in the end.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

Once you experience the worst, everything else is easy, as long as you learn from the hard times. With folks that are just starting out, one must be hungry and set early goals for their long-term career. At Arby’s, my career goals were clear. I wanted to get out of a cubicle and into an office. Once in an office, I wanted to move into a bigger office, with my eyes always on the biggest financial office there is, CFO.

So, how are things going today? :-)

Things are fantastic here at Firehouse Subs. I am in the №2 spot behind the CEO and sitting in the largest financial office in our building. Over the past 18 years at Firehouse Subs, I have grown into the CFO role, expanding the typical duties of a CFO to include franchise development, franchise administration, reporting and analytics, information technology, finance and supply chain.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?

You must love what you do when you go to work every day. This love should turn into a passion and what one does during their career, should never be good enough. Continue to learn, stay hungry and share these learnings with staff to further their careers. Be fair in making business decisions and at the same time, make business decisions without emotions. Be a leader and mentor to your young employees and demonstrate how a “boss” should act and lead.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

I am a big fan of listening more than talking. Therefore, throughout my career, I had several executive-level mentors that I followed their advice and that helped me to become an effective leader. Building a career can be scary in terms of directional moves, but those mentors gave me the confidence to make decisions and the skills to lead staff and a business to success.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Mentoring the youth and teaching them leadership and what it takes to be successful. Taking the time to mentor will in the end make our environment more positive and breed success.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

This is very simple; We all win when everyone is successful. Therefore, this is my mission/project.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Invest in your employees as it relates to coaching and mentoring. Allow them to attend career enhancing conferences and networking events. Show them how to manage through positive attributes. Tell them “Thank You” often.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Always be fair, positive and understanding.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Being a great person is a long-term investment.” I am not perfect, but I need to continue to be the best person to society and my family as possible.

Jason Malki

Written by

Jason Malki is the Founder & CEO of StrtupBoost, a 30,000+ member startup ecosystem + Flex5, a startup investor relations, marketing, and design agency.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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