Founder of McDonald’s
Ray Kroc’s entrepreneurial zeal, combined with an almost evangelical ability to motivate nearly everyone he touched, enabled him to build the largest and most successful restaurant franchise company in the world. Kroc didn’t promise franchisees success. Instead, he offered the opportunity to achieve it. Kroc’s fair and balanced franchise partnership is said to be his greatest legacy.
To underscore his own commitment to “taking the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else,” he established Hamburger University. By so doing, he confirmed his willingness to invest in the training and education of McDonald’s people and, thereby, accentuated his franchising commitment.
Kroc’s operating credo of “Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value” became the mantra for all McDonald’s owners, establishing a permanent benchmark for the entire foodservice and food-processing industries. His exacting mandates for uniformity and product consistency made it possible for a customer to get an identical Big Mac and French fries in Houston or in Moscow. In fact, the Golden Arches are said to be the second most widely recognized trademark in the world.
Kroc’s company changed the dining lifestyle of an entire society in less than one generation—96 percent of all Americans have eaten at a McDonald’s restaurant on at least one occasion. At the time of Kroc’s induction into the Hall of Honor, McDonald’s had more than 21,000 restaurants in 104 countries, with system-wide sales exceeding $30 billion.
When Kroc died in 1984, he left behind an incomparable legacy in the annals of global foodservice. As an employer, it has been estimated that McDonald’s provided the first job for one in every 15 Americans. As a humanitarian, he made certain that local McDonald’s restaurants each gave something back to its community, and as the company grew, developed new ways of saying “thank you.”
Kroc established the Kroc Foundation in 1969 to support research in diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Friends of Kroc’s established The Ray Kroc-Ronald McDonald Children’s Fund—now Ronald McDonald House Charities—to support Ronald McDonald Houses, which provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children. At the time of Kroc’s induction, there were 182 Ronald McDonald Houses in 14 countries.