By Elizabeth Skrapits (Staff Writer) / Published: July 15, 2012

Doing a good job is its own reward – but to be nationally recognized for it is, for the May family, the glazing on the doughnut.

Eric May of Forty Fort, his sister Heather Bower of Drums and their father, Jay May of Dallas, have been named the 2011 Dunkin’ Donuts Operators of the Year, a highly competitive distinction, by Dunkin’ Brands Inc., the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.

“Eric and Heather are exceptional operators who consistently raise the bar and set new standards for our entire business,” Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Brands CEO and Dunkin’ Donuts president, said in a prepared statement. “We are proud to honor them for representing the very best of the Dunkin’ Brands system.”

The May family owns six Dunkin’ Donuts franchises – in Clarks Summit, Dallas, Forty Fort, Scranton, Tunkhannock and Wyalusing. Eric May said they have been franchisees for only six years, the “earliest” to win the award.

The Mays received their award in June at the Dunkin’ Brands Franchisee & Enterprise Awards event at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., which Eric May remembers as “a fun night.”

Months earlier, things weren’t so sweet. Two of the Mays’ Dunkin’ Donuts locations, in Tunkhannock and Wyalusing, were flooded during Tropical Storm Lee on Sept. 8-9.

The Tunkhannock restaurant had about three feet of water and was back in operation in seven days.

But the Wyalusing restaurant took on 8½ feet of water.

“A stream redirected itself through our parking lot,” Eric May said.

That store had to be gutted and everything from the equipment to the electrical system had to be replaced, Eric May said. It took 49 days to get the store ready to open.

Dunkin’ Donuts spokesman Ed Donovan said criteria for the Operator of the Year award is:

n Franchisee sets a positive example.

n Crew members are trained on team service and managed to deliver great guest satisfaction.

n Franchisee has achieved a high level of compliance and proper execution of their action plans.

n Products (bakery case, beverage cooler, coffee wall) are displayed in an ideal manner.

n Franchisee knows his/her business.

According to the Dunkin’ Donuts website, there are 7,015 franchised restaurants in 36 states. Of these, four finalists were selected – and May Brands Inc. was the one that won.

“We’re honored, honestly, to be chosen,” Eric May said. “This award from Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s really a reflection on all the great people we have working for us, who go above and beyond every day, our managers and our crew.”

The Mays’ Dunkin’ Donuts franchises are an offshoot of the family business. Eric May said his grandfather bought the Penn Fern oil company in 1944, and now he and Heather are the third generation to run the Dallas-based petroleum business. Their father, at 70, is still very active, coming to the office seven days a week, Eric May said.

In addition to being Sunoco and Gulf distributors, the Mays have 10 convenience stores throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“I said we needed to diversify a little bit,” come up with something that could either be paired with the convenience stores or be freestanding, Eric May said.

“With a little luck and research, we ended up with Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said.

The Mays plan to build a new 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art bakery to further improve the business. Eric May said they bake and deliver the doughnuts “multiple times a day,” taking pride in their freshness.

Heather’s husband Jason Bower and father-in-law Joseph Bower have been in the donut business for more than 25 years, starting out as Mr. Donut franchisees and now owning Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants through Bowers Donuts Inc. of Pottsville. It was through them Eric May said he learned to be staunch about the freshness of products.

By the way, Heather and Jason met in the most appropriate of settings: a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee convention in Las Vegas.

Eric May said the family is considering opening more restaurants, but haven’t picked the locations yet.

“We’ve got a couple on the horizon right now,” he said.

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