Duck Donuts has come home.
Although the chain was launched in North Carolina in 2006, it finally has a foothold in founder Russ DiGilio’s Cumberland County hometown.
Duck Donuts, which opened its first Pennsylvania store in May in Lancaster County, began operations Friday morning at its corporate training center and store in the greater Mechanicsburg area, at 6230 Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township.
The company has grown from a family project into an up-and-coming chain, with dozens of stores under contract from New Jersey to Florida.
By 2011, Duck Donuts had expanded to four Outer Banks locations. Its first franchise opened in Williamsburg, Va. in 2013 and there are now more than 25 franchise locations in operation.
But this spot is special.
“Boasting 22,000 vehicles per day, the highly visible Carlisle Pike corridor is a perfect site for Duck Donuts. Cumberland County is the fastest-growing region in the Commonwealth, and we’re honored to contribute to Hampden Township’s growth,” DiGilio said.
“One of our first orders of business was to join the Mechanicsburg Chamber of Commerce, as well as West Shore Chamber and Harrisburg Regional Chamber/CREDC,” DiGilio added, referencing local community development organizations.
Indeed, the location’s pre-opening celebrations on Thursday drew a who’s who of local and state officials, as Duck settles into Cumberland County.
“The Department of Community and Economic Development is proud to support Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurs and job creators. We welcome Russ DiGilio and the Duck Donuts Franchising team to Pennsylvania and are thrilled that every franchise owner in the country will be trained in the Keystone State,” said Sheri Collins, DCED’s deputy secretary for technology and innovation.
“Entrepreneurs like Russ, who embody passion, energy, and ingenuity, are what make Pennsylvania a global competitor,” Collins added.
David Black, president of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber, said he sees break-out possibilities for the chain.
“The organic growth propelling Duck Donuts is indicative of Pennsylvania’s robust small business climate. I have long been a loyal fan of Duck Donuts in the Outer Banks and love that their national headquarters will be established in central Pennsylvania.”
The new location includes an 1,800-square-foot Duck Donuts retail storefront, as well as a 600-square-foot training and franchise education facility.
DiGilio’s daughter, Marissa, will oversee the franchise training facility.
“Bringing our new franchisees under one roof to learn and experience an operational store firsthand, see the brand come to life, and study processes together will be a tremendous business advantage for them and shorten their learning curves,” she said.
Each franchisee will visit the Duck Donuts Mechanicsburg training facility at least twice for extended training sessions.
As the chain eyes growth across the commonwealth, a common thread continues to define many franchise owners: They first tasted the doughnuts during coastal vacations.
“When our family vacationed in the Outer Banks, more than one friend said, ‘You have to go to Duck Donuts.’ I had never heard of this store, but we visited and became instant fans,” said Andrew Jarusinsky, new franchise owner of three Pittsburgh locations.
“We never tasted anything like Duck Donuts. And then we returned the next four mornings.”
Jarusinsky, who spent his career in corporate human resources consulting, saw a sign in the Outer Banks store last year, and “I knew that I wanted to take this product home to Pittsburgh.”
That echoes the story of Lancaster County franchisee Todd Bidelman, who opened his store on the Fruitville Pike in May.
Meanwhile, Janette Haas signed the contract to open a Duck Donuts in State College and more locations in Pennsylvania are being considered.
Each Duck Donuts creates 25 to 40 new jobs, officials said, adding that franchising has created more than 1,000 new jobs to date.
“I’m humbled that our product has ignited a passion in individuals to pursue their own dreams of business ownership,” DiGilio said.