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Why Franco’s CEO, Dan Ponder, Rocks

At some companies, the day-to-day involvement of the CEO is completely unknown. You know their face of course, and you can rightly assume that they have important responsibilities, but you know nothing about them. Not Franco’s CEO. Dan Ponder, CEO of Franco is a transparent and involved leader and, as a new employee, I’ve really enjoyed learning about his role, values and history with Franco.


With a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business with an emphasis in marketing, Dan has a diverse background in small business ownership, consulting and operational roles. Dan stepped into agency life with an eye for operations.  Dan has been a staple at Franco since 1985, taking on responsibilities of the CEO in 1993. He views himself as a business person first and a communications pro second. His passion lies in the successes of the Franco team and his total and complete trust in us is evident in every business decision he makes.

Detroit Man

Dan is a prevalent figure in the community. He has always served the city in many crucial roles and currently serves the city in many ways, just listen to this lineup…

  • Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors, member of its Executive Committee, Chairman of its joint Audit / Finance Committee, and member of the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation Board
  • Past Chairman of the Board of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce (2010) and Inaugural Chairman of its Energy, Telecommunications & Technology Committee; Michigan Chamber PAC Board and Nominating Committee member, and Senior Advisor
  • Salvation Army Metro Advisory Board member including Chairman of its Development Committee, participation on the Salvation Army’s Strategic Planning and Nominating Committees, and Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Southeast Michigan Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers and its 37 Southeast Michigan family thrift stores
  • Past Chairman (2004 – 2008) of Crime Stoppers of Michigan – current Executive and Nominating Committee member, and Chair of its Annual Recognition Dinner Fundraiser committee
  • S. Army Southeast Michigan Advisory Council member (TACOM LCMC)
  • Past Vice Chairman (2013 – 2015) of the St. John Providence Health System Board of Trustees including Audit Committee Chair, and current member Ascension Michigan Mission Integration Committee
  • Detroit Athletic Club Audit Committee

Average Day

6 a.m. First things first – Dan reviews his meetings for the day. Dan believes it’s important to reflect for 20-30 minutes each morning, which is often done in the form of journaling. Dan also operates with a daily, written, to-do list, which he reviews each morning. He LOVES to cross items off the list (don’t we all)! Considering he has a place at so many tables (see the section above!) he needs to stay organized and know where he’s headed, whether it’s the Chamber, Franco, a client meeting or somewhere else.

7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. (& Travel). Enough said. The most interesting meeting I think he has is Franco’s weekly “Leadership Huddles” where he and over half a dozen team members get together to talk business and culture, what’s going well and what can be improved, and more. He also provides strategic counsel in business and marketing to Franco’s clients with particular emphasis on community involvement, the integration of operations and communications disciplines and the benefits of a strong corporate culture.

6 p.m. Since he and his lovely wife of 35 years, Cathy, recently moved into a new home, this is a time to do a home project or two and cook in the new kitchen. Dan enjoys cooking – he finds it quite relaxing. He also enjoys the challenge of cooking healthier (less salt, red meat, etc., you get it, all the good stuff). During the week, you can find him preparing chicken fillets or baked pork chops with vegetables and salad. On the weekend, when there’s more time, he serves dishes like beef roast, roasted whole chicken and baby-back spare ribs. When it comes to entertaining however, he indulges with creating scrumptious desserts like the flaming bananas foster!  After dinner, they often go for long walks in their neighborhood OR on the trails in their community, often heading into downtown Northville or downtown Plymouth.

Spare Time With one son in California and another son who splits his time between Michigan and Wisconsin, Dan and Cathy do a little traveling to make sure they have time with their boys. The pair also enjoy kayaking and biking during long weekends in the summer in Glen Arbor.


Dan has been honored for his business and community leadership with many awards and recognitions, including the Community Leadership Award presented by Crime Stoppers of Michigan (2014); Corporate Hero Award presented by Michigan Youth Appreciation Foundation and Metro Youth Day (2015); and Michigan State University Executive MBA Alumni of the Decade Award (2015).


I’m really excited to be a part of the Franco team, especially now that I know what an incredible leader we have.


Megan Bonelli is a Senior Account Executive at Franco, where she works on automotive and B2B accounts. She can be reached at [email protected].

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