President, Damon's International Inc., Columbus, Ohio
Age: 43. Why he's rising: Negotiated the successful acquisition of Damon's parent company by a master sub-fran-chisor in 1993; member of Young Presidents Organization; CEO Advisory Board, Franklin University. Ladder climbing: President, Damon's Management Inc.; chief operating officer vice president, operations, DMI; director of free-standing restaurant operations, DMI. Schooling: Studied business at Fairmont State University and University of Michigan. Wins praise for: Growing Damon's to 114 units from 35, when he assumed presidency; passionate and focused leader. Mentor: Ed Ourant (formerly of Ponderosa), who taught Cole to "focus on the fundamentals and everything else will fall into place." First job in foodservice: Counter grill cook, Malone's Drug Store, age 14. What the future holds: Cole is planning to aggressively expand Damon's internationally.