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The chief financial officer for Culver Franchising System has been elevated to CEO and president.

Joe Koss, the Prairie du Sac company's CFO since 2000 and who joined Culver's nearly 20 years ago, will assume his new duties on Jan. 1. The announcement was made Tuesday following the fourth quarter meeting of the company's board of directors.

Koss replaces Phil Keiser, who died unexpectedly Oct. 15. Keiser, who was 60, was named president and chief operating officer in 2003 and became CEO in 2015 when Culver's co-founder Craig Culver retired. 

“I’m honored to be given this opportunity," Koss said in a statement. "We’ve all felt a tremendous loss with the passing of Phil Keiser. But I know Culver’s will continue to stay strong with the roadmap Phil left us that contain our core values and guiding principles. I look forward to working with our CFSI team, franchisees, their team members and suppliers as we move forward.”

Culver's was founded in 1984 by Craig and Lea Culver after Craig's parents, George and Ruth, bought an A&W Drive-In in Sauk City. Culver Franchising System was created in 1987, and the company grew to 100 restaurants by 2000, to 400 by 2009, when it opened a new corporate headquarters in Prairie du Sac, and now has nearly 600 locations in 24 states.

Koss joined Culver's in 1997 as controller and as CFO he has overseen the overall financial planning, accounting and control functions for the company. During his tenure, Culver’s system-wide sales have increased from $58 million to over $1.2 billion.

“Joe has been an outstanding leader in his nearly 20 years here at Culver’s,” said Craig Culver, co-founder, board chairman and interim-CEO. "The board of directors has full confidence in Mr. Koss as he leads our organization along with a strong and tenured senior leadership team.”

The company also announced that Jeff Bonner, a senior vice president, will become chief operating officer. Bonner joined Culver’s in 1999 as a franchise business consultant, was promoted to director of operations in 2002 and named vice president of operations in 2006. As senior vice president, Bonner oversees operations, training and design services.

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