Dennis Maple

Dennis Maple is the CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc. The King of Prussia-based company specializes in early childhood education. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

Early in his career, Dennis Maple knew he wanted to “be in business.”

It wasn’t until he went to work as president of Aramark Education that he realized he wanted to help young people grow, too.

“I simply fell in love with the mission of the work and that work is really about preparing young minds to be ready to take their rightful place in society so that they can be productive citizens,” Maple said.

Now, as the new CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., Maple said, he can marry his personal and professional interests.

He succeeds Joe Schumacher as the leader of the King of Prussia-based franchisor. Schumacher has been GSI’s CEO for the past 10 years and led the brand to reach its 500th recent school milestone. He will remain in an advisory role as the chairman of GSI’s Board of Directors.

“It’s been an honor to lead GSI for the past ten years, and I’m confident that Dennis is the right person to lead GSI into the future,” Schumacher said in a news release.

“He brings a compelling blend of experiences around K-12 issues and in consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries and has a track record of success in driving business growth. Dennis will position GSI and our franchisees for continued long-term growth and success.”

GSI expects to open another 200 schools in the next five years.

“We’ll be focused on growing this business, supporting our franchises and our employees and we’ll be focused on becoming an even more relevant contributor to the success of young people,” Maple said.

Maple was appointed to his new position effective Sept. 3. He plans to spend the next 90 days engaging with GSI franchisees, employees and parents.

“My primary job as I see it is to listen to our franchisees — to listen to the communities which they serve and to listen to our employees to gain a real fundamental understanding of how this company operates, how we create career opportunities for employees and how we support our franchisees to be successful to meet the expectations of parents and the students that they serve,” Maple said.

Maple brings 37 years of professional experience to his new role. He spent the last five years as president of First Student, Inc., the largest K-12 school bus transportation company in North America. Before that, he served for 10 years as president of Aramark Education, focused on delivering food, nutrition and facilities services to K-12 school markets.

During his time at Aramark and First Student, Maple gained insight into the issues currently faced by educators and school administrators.

“One of the things that I’ve learned from public educators around the U.S. is that early childhood education is probably the most underfunded, but also the most under leveraged aspect of attention paid to children and yet it’s the most critical,” he said.

“By the third grade, there are predictors that determine most likely the level of success that young people will have.”

Maple also has more than 20 years of general management experience with consumer packaged goods companies such as Coors Brewing Company, Kraft General Foods, Inc., PepsiCo, Inc. and Quaker Oats Company.

“I think Goddard for me is culmination all of these things — my packaged goods and retail experience and background and all of the managerial challenges that I faced in that world, coupled with my service sector experience and my relationship with educators and communities around North America over the last 15 years.”

Maple grew up in Memphis, Tenn. in a family of educators. He earned an accounting degree from the University of Tennessee.

Maple is a member of the Descartes Systems Group Board of Directors, where he serves as a member of the Compensation Committee and Nominating Committee. He has been involved in supporting communities as a former board member of the Urban League of Philadelphia, Episcopal Academy School, Philadelphia Outward Bound School, The Philadelphia Academies and the Paoli Hospital Foundation.

ajones@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5747

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