The third time promises to be another charm for former Green Bay Packers fullback William Henderson in Brookfield on Saturday.
That’s the scheduled grand opening for Henderson’s third Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt franchise in Sendik’s Towne Center on Brookfield Road and Capitol Drive. The event runs from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m., with 10 percent of profits earmarked for a charity fight against cancer.
Henderson, who has also opened Sweet Frog shops in Whitefish Bay and Plover, has returned to Wisconsin from his Virginia home many times since his playing days ended with the Packers, often for events with about 150 charities across the state. Now, he’s immersing himself in a business venture that really has him revved up.
“I’m super excited,” said Henderson. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to bring something to the state of Wisconsin which they will love, create some jobs, create a good family environment and give back. I’m looking forward to doing all of this through my frozen yogurt franchises. It’s just a pleasure for me to be back and doing something in the state of Wisconsin.”
Sweet Frog frozen yogurt shops were the brain child of Henderson’s business associate in Richmond four years ago.
“He came up with the philosophy and concept after checking out other similar ideas,” Henderson explained. “He went the extra mile to make it better and has had a tremendous amount of success. I try to follow business models that are real and this is a proven model.”
Today, Sweet Frog boasts 170 locations nationwide, from the East Coast as far as Nevada to the west. Naturally, the shops feature a tasty treat that anyone can enjoy. But Henderson makes a point that these shops are much more than a business. They are an opportunity to provide great, wholesome family fun while giving back to the community through charitable events for organizations like the Salvation Army, United Way and the Boys & Girls Club.
“We’re trying to make this a true experience for everyone,” said Henderson. “We offer not only a really premium frozen yogurt, we offer many other things, including our true foundation which is charity. We’re founded in the belief that we’ve got to be a little spiritual, that we can’t do everything by ourselves. We try to become part of the community. We won’t just take advantage of the community. We want to be a part of it.”
“The grand opening will feature our fundraiser to fight cancer thanks to our relationship with Soerens Ford,” said Sweet Frog manager Michael Garrison. “On Saturday, no matter who comes in or what time of day it is, the entire day 10% of our proceeds go to charity.
“We want to make Sweet Frog the family’s home, not only for fundraisers, but birthday parties and other events," Garrison added. "We want to integrate kids and let the families come out. That’s what’s really important to us.”
“We want to be a local collection point for charities instead of them having to spend their entire budget creating an event,” echoed Henderson. “We can actually be an event for them and provide a tasty treat for them and have people come out and support their organization without them having to come out and create a major event.”
Henderson was famous for with his outstanding work ethic while opening holes for running backs in the Packers backfield. That’s the same hard work, hands-on approach he brings to his frozen yogurt shops. He plans to continue returning to Wisconsin at least three times a month to make sure each of them runs as smooth as, well, yogurt.
“I think people were surprised to see me outside my Whitefish Bay location sweeping the sidewalks out front,” Henderson said with a chuckle. “I believe in presentation and I want people to understand we keep a very clean house. We do everything we can to make sure our locations look and will provide a very good treat. You might see me in there wiping tables and mixing yogurt or wiping yogurt machines to make sure they are presentable.
“You’ve got to pay your dues, but I also want to lead by example. I don’t want the young people working for me to think that I just collect. I’m doing the services that need to be done. I’m hoping the people in Brookfield will get a big kick out of our new location and I’m hoping we can truly be part of the Brookfield community.”
For sure, Henderson’s determination and powerful work ethic have caught the eye of Garrison and the dozen or so employees at each location.
“It’s all about building teams and building cohesiveness and that’s what I love most of all, watching these young people develop into business professionals,” said Garrison. “We’ve got some great staff. I’ve known Will for a long time and his determination is just like it was on the football field. He was in there immediately putting desks together, getting yogurt mixed, sweeping.
"I know he’s a humble guy and he really puts his heart into everything. But I was amazed at how much effort, time and energy he really loves spending inside the locations.”