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Academy of Achievement Catherine Monson

Catherine monson

Inducted 2018

Catherine Monson

Catherine Monson was named CEO of international signage, graphic and visual communications franchise, FASTSIGNS International, Inc., in January 2009. She brought a comprehensive background in management and business leadership, as well more than 30 years of franchising and digital printing experience. Monson is known for her mentoring leadership style, always concerned about people on both a business and personal level. She strives to develop personal relationships with the franchisees in the 660 FASTSIGNS® locations worldwide, as well as to the 100+ employees that comprise the FASTSIGNS International corporate team.


A born leader and high-achiever, Monson knew early on in her career that she wanted to lead a company. Her background in the printing industry began in 1980 with Sir Speedy, Inc., where she served as the western region operations manager. In 1984, she was promoted to assistant vice president of franchise development and later vice president of franchise development, where she was responsible for opening over 400 Sir Speedy locations. In 1991, Monson was promoted to group vice president of marketing and communications, playing an integral role in Sir Speedy developing and becoming the first printing franchise to launch a website. In 1996, she became vice president of business development of Franchise Services, Inc. (FSI), the parent company of Sir Speedy. From January 1997 until April 1999, she was responsible for the turnaround of MultiCopy Europe, FSI’s European subsidiary. Her vision of becoming president was fulfilled in 1999, when she was named president of PIP Printing & Document Services (PIP was acquired by Franchise Services, Inc. in 1996). As president, Monson successfully reorganized the company and changed the strategic marketing direction increasing franchisee satisfaction and profits after six years of decline.


Since joining FASTSIGNS in early 2009, Monson has been on a mission to advance the brand from that of just a sign and banner provider to a visual ideas and comprehensive solutions provider for all kinds of businesses. Many got to see her commitment to FASTSIGNS when she appeared on the two-time Emmy Award-nominated reality series, “Undercover Boss”, in May 2012. The show follows high-level corporate executives as they slip anonymously into the rank-and-file of their own company to examine the inner workings of their organization.


Monson’s career track is impressive, not only for the positions she has held, but also for the leadership she has provided and the respect she has earned from her peers in the printing, franchising, sign and graphics industries.


In 2009, Monson was honored by the International Franchise Association (IFA) as the Bonny LeVine Award recipient. This prestigious award is bestowed upon a female franchisor or franchisee who has demonstrated ability in franchising through contribution to the growth of the business, contributions to her community through board positions, volunteer work and activities that promote the professional advancement of women, and contributions as a mentor to women in franchising. In 2010, she was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the top 25 Women Industry Leaders in the Dallas Metroplex and in 2013, she was named an “Innovator and Influencer” by Sign and Digital Graphics magazine.


In 2012 and 2013, she worked to rally businesses and organizations to help find a cure for blood cancers, serving as the Dallas/Fort Worth Corporate Walk Chair for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk.­­


A strong advocate for small business enterprise and franchising, Monson spends much of her time and energy serving on the Board of Directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA), the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchises worldwide. She was recently elected Secretary of the IFA after serving on the IFA Executive Committee and Chair of the Franchisor Forum. Past committees she has worked on include the Women’s Franchise Committee, the Educational Foundation Research Committee, the Franchise Relations Committee, the Benchmarking Task Force and the Franchise Relations Best Practices Task Force. Through her service with the IFA, Monson works to help further the IFA’s mission of protecting and promoting franchising through government relations, public relations and educational programs. In 2014, she testified before the US House of Representatives Workforce Subcommittee on the potential negative consequences of the NLRB’s expected expansion of the definition of “Joint Employer”.


In 2015, she received the IFA’s first ever “FAN (Franchise Action Network) of the Year Award” for her commitment, dedication and efforts to champion franchise and small businesses locally and nationally through her work with the Franchise Action Network.


Monson, Certified Franchise Executive (CFE), shares her knowledge by writing articles for magazines (i.e.: Franchising World and Wide Format & Sign) and providing keynote speeches at conferences. She has been a panelist in breakout sessions at every IFA Convention since 2006. She served as a keynote speaker for the 2016 IFA Convention, as well as for the Australian Franchise Convention in 2016, the Brazilian Franchise Association in 2016 and the Canadian Franchise Association Convention in 2017.


In 2016, Monson was selected as a Soderstrom Society Inductee, an honors association that recognizes the outstanding contributions of professionals whose careers have advanced the printing and graphic communications industry. That same year, she received inaugural Women in Print Award from Big Picture Magazine, which honored six exceptional women who have advanced the digital printing industry through their innovation, vision in leading successful businesses andphilanthropy. Monson was also honored with the 2016 Leadership Award from Women That Soar, an organization whose mission is to empower and encourage women to feel confident in their unique talents and capabilities, to understand the power of unity and to be strong in their journeys to productive, enriched lives.  


Under Monson’s leadership, FASTSIGNS International, Inc. received the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition presented by the Department of Defense to employers for their exemplary support of National Guard and Reserve members.


A graduate of Pepperdine University, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, Monson has contributed to the world of higher education by serving on the Pi Sigma Epsilon National Education Foundation Board of Trustees from 2008 through 2017. She has also been a keynote speaker at two Pi Sigma Epsilon conventions in 2011 and 2016.


Monson currently serves on the Board of Directors for four organizations – The International Franchise Association (IFA), the Learning Experience (a franchisor of early childhood development centers), Brain Balance (a franchisor offering a non-drug alternative to change the lives of children struggling with academic, social and behavioral issues) and Idealliance (a global association of visual graphics professionals).

Catherine Monson was inducted to the SMEI Academy of Achievement on January 19, 2018 in Houston, Texas and presented with the 2018 SMEI Ambassador of Free Enterprise Award.