A Saipan-based businessman has purchased all six branches of the McDonald’s franchise in Guam in mid-2016.
Jose “Joe” Ayuyu Sr. now owns all six branches of McDonald’s in the most populous island of Micronesia, Guam, and the largest island of the CNMI.
The Ayuyu family owns the McDonald’s franchise on Saipan and maintains two branches here: the main branch on Middle Road and at the Mobil gas station in Garapan.
Joe Ayuyu Jr., general manager of McDonald’s Middle Road, told Saipan Tribune that his parents have been querying with the McDonald’s Corp. for several years now if they could set up a store in Guam.”
“It just so happens that it was the right time, and finally, the corporation said yes. [Joe Ayuyu] acted quickly and when they offered it to him, [he] accepted,” said Ayuyu Jr.
Guam McDonald’s Tamuning branch has been doing business in Guam for 45 years.
Ayuyu Jr. said it was being run by the corporation, which is headquartered in Chicago, but had a regional office in Hawaii.
“On Saipan, we are a franchise restaurant, and so that is how he was able to buy it. He bought it straight from the corporation,” said Ayuyu Jr.
The official takeover date for the Guam branches was on May 1, 2016. He declined to specify the purchase terms.
“Now that the business has expanded a lot, we are now getting more of our family involved,” said Ayuyu Jr.
Ayuyu Jr. said his father decided to keep the staff during the transition.
“We expanded our office by hiring some new administrative people. We do have staff in Guam. They have an office there, and my dad made it a point to keep everybody on board. During the transition, everybody was guaranteed their jobs so long as they continue to do what they were doing and meet the company standards. We ended up keeping everybody,” he said.
Ayuyu Jr. owes it to the experienced staff in Guam for helping them during the transition.
“Of the 45 years that McDonald’s Guam has been operating, some of them have been with the company for 20 to 30 years. We are lucky to have them,” he said.
Having the same owner means both Saipan and Guam McDonald’s offices are collaborating and sharing ideas. However, the offices would remain separate due to the sheer size of the Guam market.
“It is a big business and it takes somebody really experienced to manage there. Here on Saipan, I am in charge with the help of my mom, Marcia Ayuyu, and my sister, Mable Ayuyu,” he said.
Ayuyu Jr.’s goal at the moment is to become a certified owner of the franchise.
“I am currently undergoing training, which is a prerequisite to become a certified owner/operator. Some years back, my mom became a certified owner/operator, and that eventually is my goal,” said Ayuyu Jr.
The factors that dictate a McDonald’s decision to open up a new branch is the population and the economy.
“With all the military buildup and the strong tourist presence, we are looking to open a new location [in Guam] by the end of 2017,” said Ayuyu Jr.
The Ayuyus are still juggling with the idea of expanding on Saipan, considering its significantly lower population compared to Guam.
“Our challenge now is that the [McDonald’s Garapan] store is very limited in space, which is why we don’t serve all of McDonald’s products there. In the Middle Road branch, we can accommodate all the equipment we need to prepare certain food orders. We would love to [serve our consumers], but realistically, there is nothing we can do,” said Ayuyu Jr.
The possibility of a McDonald’s branch in Kagman has been discussed but nothing solid remains, according to him.
“We don’t have plans for expansion on Saipan yet, but we are keeping it in mind. People have been talking about Kagman and the southern area, so we are remaining open to possibilities,” he said.
Although the family has yet to discuss it, Ayuyu Jr. is open to the idea of purchasing another franchise brand—when the time is right. “We’ll see,” he said.
“What I can tell you is Saipan and Guam’s economy is growing, so there is a possibility to open more stores. I think we would look into that first before branching out into other businesses. I haven’t talked to the boss about that, but what I can say about my dad is he is an entrepreneur—he is always looking for new things. All I can really say is we have to wait and see,” said Ayuyu Jr.
Ayuyu Jr. said the community is just really proud of Ayuyu Sr.’s accomplishments.
“We are just really proud of him. I know that his friends, family, and the people of Saipan are proud of what he’s done and what kind of example he sets for us,” he said.