Big Frog Brand Story and Franchise Leadership Team
Our Brand Story
The humble beginnings of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More began back in 2008, as a trio of visionaries — Leeward Bean, Tina Bacon-DeFrece, Ph.D., and Ron DeFrece — took the plunge and opened the inaugural Big Frog store in Clearwater, Florida. Little did they know, this humble venture would blossom into a nationwide phenomenon.
The local community embraced the the pioneering custom t-shirt printing concept with open arms, propelling the brand to remarkable success. Fueled by this triumph, the three entrepreneurs decided to share the magic of Big Frog with the rest of the nation through strategic franchising.
Fast forward to today, where the Big Frog franchise system boasts a thriving network of over 75 locations across the United States, with its influence reaching into the Canadian landscape. The story of Big Frog is one of continuous evolution and growth, with each leap bringing us closer to new and bigger horizons. Join us on this extraordinary journey as Big Frog continues to grow and expand its pond by leaps and bounds.
Our Franchise Leadership Team
Tina Bacon-DeFrece, Ph.D. | President & CEO
Meet Christina (“Tina”) Bacon-DeFrece, Ph.D., the dynamic force driving Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More. As the President and CEO of this international franchise system headquartered in sunny Dunedin, Florida, Tina oversees a team that supports a network of over 75 stores across the US and Canada.
Tina’s journey began as a co-owner of the inaugural Big Frog store in Clearwater, Florida, marking her shift from a research engineer specializing in optical instrumentation. Stepping into the role of CEO in 2018 when the late and former CEO Leeward Bean retired, she’s been at the helm since 2016, previously serving as President and Executive Vice President.
Under Tina’s visionary leadership, Big Frog has strengthened all aspects of its operations and undergone a series of transformative changes, including an enhanced online design tool, an innovative point-of-sale system, and ADA-compliant, responsive design website improvements. Notably, she secured an exclusive partnership with Axiom of America, making Big Frog the sole distributor of their direct-to-film printers (DTF).
Dr. Bacon-DeFrece’s strategic focus on culture and franchise system expansion has propelled Big Frog to unparalleled growth and froggy success. In the world of custom apparel, the sky’s the limit for Big Frog.
Ron DeFrece | Chief Operations Officer
Meet Ron DeFrece, the operational mastermind behind the scenes at Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More. As the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and co-founder of Big Frog, Ron has been helping to shape the brand’s success story since 2008.
His influence on operational strategies and the franchise system’s coaching and training model is unparalleled. As the CEO’s trusted partner, he helps steer overall business development. His extensive background in business, management, and franchising is a driving force behind helping Big Frog franchise owners turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.
Mr. DeFrece continually seeks opportunities to enhance efficiency and embrace eco-friendly practices. Once such example is the recent collaboration with Dr. Bacon-DeFrece to ink a strategic partnership with Axiom of America, solidifying Big Frog’s position as the exclusive distributor of Axiom’s cutting-edge direct-to-film printers (DTF). The move enables franchisees to bring more decorative apparel services in-house and reduce costs, while giving consumers more choices.
In the world of custom t-shirts and apparel decorating, DeFrece has established a foundation of operational effectiveness that ensures everything at Big Frog runs smoothly and sustainably.
David Braun | Chief Development Officer
Meet David Braun, our Chief Development Officer extraordinaire, based in Chelsea, Michigan. Before joining Big Frog, David played key roles in Corporate America and with other franchise organizations previously serving as COO, Vice President of Franchise Development, Vice President of Franchise Operations, Director of Marketing.
Bringing a whopping 27 years of executive experience to the table, David is a seasoned pro in all things franchising. His track record boasts launching, developing, overseeing, managing, and growing a staggering 18 different franchise concepts across diverse industries.
David’s expertise spans conversions, acquisitions, broker networks, distribution, marketing, and the full spectrum of franchise development, support, and finance. He’s not just a Chief Development Officer; he’s a franchise whisperer.
Paul Bowes | Vice President of Operations
Meet Paul Bowes, Big Frog’s Vice President of Operations, and the powerhouse driving the operational excellence of Big Frog from our sunny base in Dunedin, Florida. Paul took on this role in July 2022. His journey with us began as a Franchise Business Coach, a position he held from July 2020 to July 2022.
Before joining the Big Frog family, Paul left his mark as the Territory and Sales Development lead for Florida at Neenah Foundry in Neenah, Wisconsin, from June 2018 to July 2020. With a background deeply rooted in automotive and hydraulic engineering, Paul boasts over two decades of experience in the franchising industry. His expertise spans operations management, national training oversight, and national franchise sales management.
Paul and his seasoned team of franchise business coaches are dedicated to delivering a “VIP Experience” and to providing Big Frog’s franchisees with the knowledge and support they need to thrive, prosper, and discover their full business potential.
Ken Karcher | Vice President of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships
Ken Karcher, our Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, a driving force in Big Frog’s growth through the formation of strategic business partnerships. Based in sunny Dunedin, Florida, Ken has been an integral part of the Big Frog family since September 2017.
Before embarking on this exciting journey with Big Frog, Ken held various executive management positions in the consumer packaged goods and category management realm. With a wealth of experience spanning over 25 years, Ken brings a deep understanding of retail and wholesale business development, making him a key player in our quest for growth and in the formation of impactful partnerships to support the success of our franchisees and the Big Frog Brand.
Gina Signor | Director of Marketing
Meet Gina Signor, the dynamic force spearheading our marketing magic at Big Frog! Since April 2023, she’s been the Director of Marketing extraordinaire, at our headquarters office in sunny Dunedin, Florida. In her role, Gina not only oversees the franchise headquarters marketing department but also sets the gold standard for marketing and brand excellence across our entire franchise system.
Before joining the Frog family, Gina showcased her talents as the Director of Operations for The Gutter & Construction Co. in Oldsmar, Florida. Her journey also includes a stint as the Director of Marketing and Branding for Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services in Palm Harbor, Florida, from October 2018 to August 2022.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree and dual majors in marketing management and personnel management, Gina brings over 25 years of executive-level experience to the table. Her expertise spans B2B and B2C marketing, as well as human resources management, in realms ranging from retail and tech to franchising and finance. She and the dynamic marketing team ensure that our Big Frog brand shines brightly.
Angel Zick | Director of Learning & Development
Meet Angel Zick, the seasoned Director of Learning and Development at Big Frog, based in Dunedin, Florida. Angel has been guiding the growth and expertise of Big Frog’s franchisees since March 2023. Her journey with us started back in July 2015, where she seamlessly assumed the responsibilities of Learning and Development Manager until her promotion to her current role.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in education, Angel brings over 15 years of rich experience to the table. Her expertise spans the realms of education, technical writing, project management, and comprehensive training. In her impactful tenure, she’s been instrumental in shaping our learning culture and fostering the professional development of Big Frog’s franchisees to help them become successful, thriving business people.
As Director of Learning and Development, she’s a driving force behind the growth and expertise of our dedicated franchisees. Her passion for learning and unwavering commitment to excellence make her an invaluable asset to the Big Frog family.
Al Warok | Director of Franchise Development
Al Warok has served as Big Frog’s Director of Franchise Development since March of 2019. In his role, he works with franchise candidates to determine whether Big Frog is the right investment opportunity and cultural fit.
Mr. Warok previously served as a sales executive for Mercedes-Benz in Fayetteville, North Carolina from May 2017 to January 2019. In addition, he served as Senior Director of International Franchise Operations of GNC Holdings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from March 2014 to January 2016 and Director of International Franchise Operations from November 2011 to February 2014.
Brian Berry | Controller
Meet Brian Berry, the financial steward who steers the fiscal ship at Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More. Since June 2016, Brian has expertly navigated the financial waters as our Controller. Before joining our Froggy family, he earned his stripes in accounting with a bachelor’s degree and flexed his financial finesse as the Assistant Controller for Sky Hospitality from 2015 to 2016.
Brian brings over a decade of tax accounting expertise to the table, specializing in areas such as individual tax preparation, business tax preparation, and the nuances of payroll. At Big Frog, Brian’s financial wizardry keeps our numbers in check, contributing to the success of our leap-worthy franchise.