Ray Kroc joined the Red Cross as an ambulance at 15 years old after lying about his age. During his training the war ended leaving him jobless. He later worked random jobs including a piano player and paper cup salesman. It was his job as a multi-mixer salesman that led him to a restaurant in San Bernardino, CA in 1954. It was here that brothers Dick and Mac McDonald created a rather small but very successful business, known then as “McDonald’s Famous Hamburgers.” Kroc was inspired and envisioned “McDonald’s” restaurants across the U.S. Kroc pitched his to the McDonald brothers and founded the McDonald’s Corporation in 1955. By 1958, McDonald’s sold its millionth hamburger and Kroc bought the rights to the McDonald’s name in 1960. By 1965, just ten years after Kroc created the corporation, there were over 700 restaurants in the U.S. and in 1967 the first international locations opened.
What made McDonald’s so successful was Kroc’s idea to have the entire system consistent. Kroc wanted high quality and the same preparation methods. His slogan was “In business for yourself, but not by yourself.” This meant from buyers to franchise owners they all worked together as a whole McDonald’s unit. He based his philosophy on the “3-legged stool” principle. Each leg represented a different piece of the puzzle; McDonald’s, franchisees, and the suppliers. The McDonald’s Corporation, the stool, “was only strong as the three legs.” Kroc also believed in improving his business. One way he achieved this was with the creation of “Hamburger University” in 1961. It started at a new restaurant in Elk Groove Village, IL. Here they trained franchisee operators the success behind McDonald’s and researched new methods like cooking and freezing food. Another facet to the success of the McDonald’s Corporation is its innovation. Today when we hear “Big Mac” or “Egg McMuffin” we automatically associate these sandwiches with McDonald’s. These were both created by franchisees. McDonalds also prides itself on innovations and the principle “quality, service, cleanliness, and value.”
Ray Kroc was able to see his dream become a reality up until his death in 1984. His hard work and dedication led to the creation of one of the most recognized symbols, “the golden arches,” of our time. Today there are 30,000 locations in 119 countries, approximately 14,00 locations in the U.S., and more than 80,00 people have graduated from Hamburger University. He is definitely a pioneer for the fast food industry and one the most influential entrepreneurs of the 1900s.
James, Randy. (2009, Oct. 28). A Brief History of McDonald’s Abroad. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1932839,00.html
McDonald’s History. (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com/mcd/our_company/mcdonalds_history_timeline.html
The Ray Kroc Story. (n.d.). Retrieved f July 16, 2012, from http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/our_story/our_history/the_ray_kroc_story.html