Amid a wave of growth that recently culminated in the opening of its 600th restaurant, new CEO Joseph Koss is set to take the helm of the Culvers Franchise System.

Koss, who has been the company’s Chief Financial Officer since 2000, will take the role from interim CEO and Culver’s co-founder Craig Culver. Culver stepped into the role after former CEO Phil Keiser died suddenly Oct. 15. Koss joined Culver’s in 1997 as controller.

“There are certainly big shoes to fill with Phil’s passing, but I learned a tremendous amount from him,” Koss stated in an email. “I was already transitioning to take on an expanded role beyond financial responsibilities for the past few years.”

Koss said he’d been included in all aspects of decision-making at the business, including IT, marketing, supply chain operations, training and development.

“I’m a proponent of face-to-face communication,” Koss stated of his leadership style. “Always an open door. I believe in empowering people to make decisions.”

Koss said the biggest challenge he will face will be strengthening the culture started by the Culver family and championed by Phil.

When he’s not working, Koss spends his time at home in Waunakee with his family.

“Kid’s activities take up much of our time but I also enjoy traveling and golf – although I’m not very good at it.”

Culver’s was founded in 1984 in Sauk City by co-founder Craig Culver and his family. Culver’s operates in 24 states. The company recently opened its 600th location and plans to open 44 more in 2017.

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle