A conversation with THE BASA JUDGES

Dr. Tom DuFore

Dr. Tom DuFore is the CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, where he is responsible for the company strategy, vision, and growth, but how did he get here?

The Best of America Small Business Awards has welcomed Tom DuFore to the Independent Judging Panel. After his nomination, we discussed his passion for small businesses in an interview.


Tom, can you describe your job in one line?


I transform entrepreneurs’ businesses into thriving franchise organizations.


What are your favorite things about working in this industry?


Throughout my nearly two-decade journey in this field, the remarkable sense of community truly captivates me. The spirit of camaraderie in the franchising world is unwavering. It’s about supporting your own and fostering collaboration among competitors, suppliers, franchisors, and franchisees. The collective effort to work harmoniously and uplift each other is truly heartening.


Can you identify a “tipping point” in your career when you saw success?


In college, a defining moment altered the course of my career. I attended a speaker’s presentation and afterward approached him for advice. He became my mentor, which was the tipping point for my career. This relationship was a game-changer, offering valuable insights from his past successes that accelerated my growth. I learned the importance of having exceptional mentors and implementing their advice. It’s easy to seek advice, but taking action makes the difference. Today, goals set over two decades ago from that mentoring session are still being achieved - a testament to the power of great guidance and proactive execution.

"Seek great mentors and counselors, and take that advice."


What do you think would be the number one thing you hope people learn from you and continue to learn from you?


Doing business ethically and being profitable can go hand in hand; they are not mutually exclusive. You can still do things right, have fun and achieve remarkable profitability in your ventures.


The BASA Awards are about authentic, independent recognition. Why do you think that's important?"


Starting and building an organization is challenging and rewarding, yet often thankless. That’s why I believe independent awards can make a difference. By honoring those who do things differently or uniquely, we inspire and motivate the next generation of entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. As a successful business leader, your story can be the tipping point for others, providing the push they need to take that next step and spark the next wave of innovative ideas. Let’s celebrate and inspire one another on this incredible journey of entrepreneurship.


"It's all about win-win relationships. I firmly believe in seeking mutual gains, where we all rise together. While transactions are part of the process, what truly matters is building meaningful relationships with people. "


Any words of encouragement for BASA nominees?


Wayne Gretzky famously said you miss a hundred percent of shots you don’t take. If you’re here reading this, do it, apply.


Anna Stella - Best of America Small Business Awards