Jim DiRugeris Joins Lightbridge Academy® as Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales as the Franchise Eyes 150 Locations by 2026

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The leading early education and child care brand gears up its franchising efforts with plans to grow across the Southeast.

Since its founding in 1997, Lightbridge Academy® has made its way through several recessions, a pandemic and onto today’s springboard to national prominence. Throughout that journey, Lightbridge Academy has remained steadfast in its mission to be The Solution for Working Parents® in any climate. Today, Lightbridge Academy is a leading early education and child care franchise with 62 centers open and a 2021 franchise sales goal of 12 new leases, 12 franchises awarded and 14 openings. The growth of the franchise continues internally, too, with the welcoming of Jim DiRugeris, a seasoned executive who understands the various facets of unit growth, to the family as senior vice president of franchise sales.

DiRugeris brings his passion for the children’s education industry and leading franchise sales for emerging and mature top child care brands. His extensive franchise expertise, business and leadership skills and market knowledge will be an invaluable resource for both Lightbridge Academy franchise owners and prospective franchisees.

“The decision to join a company with a proven business model, experienced franchise leadership team, history of innovation and well-defined processes was an easy one for me,” stated DiRugeris. “The Lightbridge organization and culture is best in class and I couldn’t be more excited to drive system expansion as we move into new markets.”

As an accomplished franchise sales and development strategist, DiRugeris’ vision and expertise in business performance has propelled growth for franchise brands such as Goddard Systems, where he served as vice president of franchise sales for six years and set company records for sales.

Most recently, DiRugeris served as chief development officer at Celebree — an emerging child care franchise system. He worked with prospective and established franchise owners to help them achieve their goal of business ownership and develop their child care portfolios.

Previous to his career in the child care industry, Jim worked for seven years with Driven Brands, where he worked with Maaco Franchising, Inc. In his time with Driven Brands, the leader in the automotive aftermarket, he set and helped achieve the business development goals for sales, real estate and construction.

CEO of Lightbridge Academy Gigi Schweikert expressed her appreciation for DiRugeris’s deep experience and alignment with the company core values and culture and ability to lead the franchise sales team at Lightbridge Academy.

"As one of the fastest-growing franchises, we are pushing full steam ahead with our franchise development plans, and Jim's deep experience in the child care industry and ability to identify the right franchise owners for our system will help take us to the next phase of growth,” said Schweikert. “We're looking forward to entering more communities with our Circle of Care® to make a difference to families in new markets across the East Coast and the South."

In the midst of a strong growth period, the Lightbridge team is confident that DiRugeris’ vast experience will enable the franchise to build upon an already solid foundation to further strengthen the brand as it continues to bring high-quality franchisees into the Lightbridge Academy system.

Learn more about franchise opportunities at http://www.LightbridgeAcademyFranchise.com.

About Lightbridge Academy®

Established in 1997, the company was founded as a family business based on core values and a Circle of Care philosophy that places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. Lightbridge Academy® provides quality early education and child care programs to children aged six weeks through kindergarten. Franchised in 2011, the company currently has over 120 child care centers either open or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. In response to COVID-19, Lightbridge Academy® launched The Lightbridge Promise as the Gold Standard for health & safety in the child care industry. In 2020, the company was featured on the Inc. 5000 ranking, Franchise Times Top 200+ awards, and Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 and most recently, was recognized on Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Best Customer Service.

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Lauren Turner
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