Detroit firefighter turned entrepreneur recognized with Best in Business award

Jeff Urbas, a part-time Firefighter with the Detroit Fire Department and full-time Firehouse Subs franchisee in Rochester Hills, was awarded Huntington National Bank’s 2014 “Best in Business” award in the food category.

Mike Fezzey, president of Huntington National Bank Southeastern Michigan Region (from left) Paul W. Smith, WJR Radio host and Jeff Urbas, Firehouse Subs franchisee and Detroit Fire Sargeant. Submitted photo

Mike Fezzey, president of Huntington National Bank Southeastern Michigan Region (from left) Paul W. Smith, WJR Radio host and Jeff Urbas, Firehouse Subs franchisee and Detroit Fire Sargeant. Submitted photo

With more than 23 years of firefighting service, Urbas understands the importance of community service and public safety. When pensions were at risk during Detroit’s bankruptcy and Jeff wanted to secure his financial future, he chose to open a Firehouse Subs franchise in Rochester Hills, which has not only provided him personal security, but also brought jobs and support to the community which he serves.

“Being selected for the Huntington Bank’s 2014 Best In Business award was a very rewarding experience. Obviously being recognized by a third party for all the hard work I put into the business makes it all worthwhile,” said Urbas.

The Firehouse Subs franchise was founded by two firefighting brothers. The restaurant chain serves hot subs and raises funds with the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which has donated more than $12 million to public safety entities since its inception in 2005.

Last year, Urbas recognized his department’s need for assistance and approached the Detroit Fire Department’s commissioner with information about the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation’s grant process. A few months later, they received 52 self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs), worth more than $30,000. The donated air bottles replaced outdated equipment to provide firefighters breathable air in life-threatening situations.

Grants like these are made possible by funds raised in each restaurant via rounding up guests bills, selling of recycled pickle buckets and donation canisters by the registers. Urbas’s restaurant was recognized within the Firehouse Subs system as the 18th highest fundraising restaurant out of 850 nationwide for their support of the Foundation.

Additionally, Urbas hosts percentage nights at his restaurant to support local community fundraising initiatives, including Rochester Hills Community Schools sports teams, non profits and citizens in need. To further support the safety of his guests as well as the community, Jeff is sponsoring all of his employees to undergo official CPR and choking victim training in the coming months to encourage community service among staff.

Urbas’s restaurant is at 1480 N. Rochester Road at Tienken Road.

“Looking to the future, we plan to continue growing my Firehouse Subs restaurant in Rochester Hills,” said Urbas. “We are also considering leasing space in our development area to build another Firehouse Subs restaurant.”

Another Firehouse Subs is opening soon on Rochester Road by a different franchisee to continue the chain’s expansion in Michigan.

— Submitted by Emily Oliver; DailyTribune.com

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