The International Franchise Association (IFA) named Steve Leibsohn, a multi-unit Wetzel’s Pretzels owner, as its 2022 Franchisee of the Year. Leibsohn, who operates over 35 bakeries across Arizona, was honored at the IFA’s annual convention in Las Vegas.

Leibsohn has been a Wetzel’s Pretzels franchisee and brand ambassador for over 25 years, now with over 35 locations.

“Steve has always been an incredible team player, with an entrepreneurial spirit that channels the ambitious nature of the Wetzel’s Pretzels brand,” says Jennifer Schuler, chief executive officer of Wetzel’s Pretzels. “As a valued partner for decades, his consistent growth across a diverse range of store formats speaks volumes of his commitment to the brand. We’re proud of his many accomplishments and the impact he’s made in both his local community and the greater franchise network.”

The IFA’s Franchisee of the Year Award recognizes leading franchise owners whose outstanding performance and contributions help protect, enhance and promote the franchise business model. Recipients are selected for their service to their communities, fostering a strong and vibrant workforce, opening the doors for career growth and entrepreneurship and supporting their fellow franchisees.

“This is the highest honor we bestow on individual owners, with its recipients representing the very best in franchising,” says Matthew Haller, president and chief executive officer of the International Franchise Association. “We’re proud to celebrate local business owners like Steve Leibsohn who exemplify the power of franchising and its positive contributions to communities around the world.”

As a franchisee, Leibsohn has always generously invested his time and resources to support worthy causes and aspiring entrepreneurs. He spearheaded a partnership with No Kid Hungry that has led Wetzel’s Pretzels to donate more than $100,000 to fight childhood hunger. He also mentors new Wetzel’s Pretzels franchisees.

“Joining the Wetzel’s family over 25 years ago was the best decision I ever made,” says Leibsohn. “When you find a franchisor you trust, a brand you believe in and a product that guests can’t get enough of, ‘work,’ feels a lot more like fun. I’m humbled to be acknowledged by the IFA and look forward to continued growth in the restaurant industry.”