Growing up in Spain, Jorge Juan Primo Planta would play so much tennis that he struggled to find time to study.
“I’d get picked up from school at 5 p.m., would play tennis from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and was home at like 10 p.m.,” he recalls. “Sometimes I woke up at 5 a.m. not knowing anything about the exam that I had at 8.”
However, that didn’t stop him from excelling both in his studies and in tennis—accomplishments he credits to an obsessive work ethic. In the intervening years, that drive to succeed brought him to Driven Brands, the largest automotive services company in North America and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the US, as vice president of development.
When he reflects on his success, he’s brought back to the tennis court and to the classroom: two places that instilled the skills he’d need to help put the company’s growth on an upward trajectory.
“You work hard, you prepare, and if you want something, you put in a lot of hours to get it done,” he says.
That industrious mindset earned Primo law and business administration degrees at the Universitat de Valencia, graduating at the top of his classes. In turn, those academic strides led to him receiving a full ride scholarship to Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business for a master’s in management, business, and finance.
He says his studies revealed the power of private equity and the opportunities it could create for others—something that became clear when he got to Driven Brands.
“Private equity was about companies investing in other companies and providing the means to growth to get them to the next level,” he says. “That’s what I’ve seen here at Driven. We’ve opened up a lot of opportunities for a number of people that wouldn’t have them any other way. The amount of wealth we’ve created is amazing.”
His first six months at the company as an M&A analyst, however, were pretty tough.
“At the beginning, we didn’t really know what we had to acquire, and we had to create our own job,” he says. “Looking back, it was a little scary. It was my first real job in the US, and I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
He navigated that by being the first person to clock in and the last to leave, efficiently putting together sellers and franchisees to buy locations with a program. Because of those efforts, his success and responsibilities grew as the company did. Six months into the job, he managed to get franchisees to buy upwards of twenty units.
After a year, he was selected for Driven’s management training program and was promoted to manager. Six months after that, he was called on to be director of M&A, a role in which he led the origination, execution, and integration of eleven add-on acquisitions for new Take 5 Oil Change locations, as well as some multiunit acquisitions.
Primo was then moved into the real estate department, where he was responsible for organic growth at Take 5. He was later promoted to be in charge of the organic growth for all main brands at Driven: Take 5 Oil Change, Take 5 Car Wash, Auto Glass now, Meineke, and Maaco.
Today, after nearly eight years with the company and a vice president title, Primo has set his sights on making Driven Brands the fastest-growing oil change, carwash, and glass servicing chain in the world.
“I’m very convinced we’re going to get there,” he says. “And long term, the goal is to accelerate from there with successful openings and to reach a good level of US retail shop saturation over the next decade.”
Primo is in charge of organic growth and is responsible for helping the company grow around 250 corporate openings and 170 franchise openings each year. That growth is reflected in the company’s 2022 third quarter financial results. It saw a 39 percent revenue increase in the third quarter of 2022 with 9 percent net store growth.
For those looking to grow, he offers this advice: don’t give up. “Work hard until late, and some ideas will come,” he says. “Keep trying and show that you really care, and that it won’t be because of a lack of effort if things aren’t happening for you.”
Primo realizes that the kind of growth his company has experienced takes having a strong team too. When you have the right people, the right processes in place and incentives to encourage groundbreaking work, success isn’t too far behind.
“What we’ve done is hire people who are hungry with awesome attitudes,” he says. “The typical person in my team is someone straight from college that really wants to do something in the real estate space, and we’re giving them the opportunity to gain that experience.”