Ronald E. Harrison Award Winner
President, CEO and Founder
ATAX Franchise, Inc.
This award was created to recognize organizations or individuals who have made significant contributions to minorities in franchising either within their franchise organization or within the franchise community. This award is open to any organization or individual from an IFA-member company, past or present, whether franchisor, franchisee or supplier. Ronald E. Harrison, CFE, retired PepsiCo senior vice president, IFA 1999 chairman and former chairman of the IFA Diversity Institute board of directors, was the first recipient of this award, which was subsequently named in his honor.
With 27 years of experience within the tax preparation industry and after a strategic analysis of the financial services industry, Rafael Alvarez identified a lack of a nationwide tax preparation franchises owned by the Hispanic or Latino community. In 2007, ATAX Accounting and Financial Services was officially established as a franchise offering, becoming the first Latino-owned franchise company in the tax preparation industry and one of the fastest growing franchise companies in the nation. Alvarez has built one of the largest tax preparation practices in the United States, preparing more than 10,000 personal tax returns and about 500 corporate tax returns.
A self-proclaimed “product of diversity,” Alvarez was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan — a neighborhood with 98 percent minority residents. After opening his first office in Washington Heights in 1986, he promoted diversity by hiring employees from his neighborhood. ATAX’s franchisees are predominantly Latino and come from a variety of cultural backgrounds including: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In 2012, ATAX was listed as the 3rd Top 50 Minority Franchisor by National Minority Franchising Initiative.
Alvarez’s four cornerstone principles to his franchise business strategy are key contributors to the positive visibility and success of ATAX franchise. These principles are: provide great customer service to clients, charge reasonable fees for services, get involved in the community and make significant contributions to the community.
Alvarez is actively involved in his community and in 2007 helped organize the national Dominican parade in New York City. He has also served as a board member of the Ethics Committee at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, as well as the treasurer of the Guardian Angels. His community involvement has highlighted the importance of developing and promoting the franchise business model in the Latino community.