Successful people Part 5 - Ray Kroc (McDonald's)
“All money means to me is a pride in accomplishment.” - Ray Kroc
The biography of Ray Kroc is a story of firsts. He was one of the first fifteen year olds to serve as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross during the First World War after lying about his age. He was the first to see the nationwide potential of a small family business operating out of California. And, he was the first man to apply the principles of mass production to the service industry.
While his is a story of astounding success, it is not all golden arches and smiling faces. He had both diabetes and arthritis, and was also forced to have his gall bladder and thyroid gland surgically removed. In fact, Kroc was already 59 years old when he paid the $2.7 million to buy out the McDonald brother’s operation. Yet, he continued to grow his newly acquired franchise with the energy and enthusiasm of a young entrepreneur.
This life story began in Oak Park, Illinois in 1902, and his travels as a salesman for a multi-mixer milkshake machine would take him all over the country. However, it would be in San Bernardino, California where the story truly took off. It was there that he met Mac and Dick MacDonald – the two men who would change his life forever.
The MacDonald brothers were operating a simple hamburger-and-fries restaurant in California and using a unique assembly line system to deliver efficient service. As is typical throughout the biography of Ray Kroc, the salesman demonstrated amazing foresight in determining that this restaurant had great potential for expansion. He first became the MacDonald brothers’ exclusive agent, and later, in 1961, bought them out completely.
It is here where the story of this entrepreneur begins to stand out. In fact, the $2.7 million he paid for the brothers’ operation is considered by many to be one of the greatest acts of salesmanship in history. From there, the story only continues to get better. Kroc created the Franchise Realty Corporation, which would buy land and lease it to McDonald’s franchisees, and began a rapid rate of expansion. He also created Ronald McDonald – the company’s mascot that has endured almost four decades.
By 1987, McDonald’s had sold over 65 billion hamburgers and it had just opened its ten thousandth store. This success story was becoming something of a legend. As the franchise achieved saturation of the domestic market, it began to expand outward. Today, one-third of new McDonald’s franchises are opened in foreign markets.
The story of this businessman is not simply a story of enlightened entrepreneurship. Outside of the business world, he was admired for having purchased the San Diego Padres major league baseball team in order to prevent them from being moved to Washington, D.C.
In 1984, the biography of Ray Kroc came to an end, when he passed away at the age of eighty-one. It would be just ten months shy of the sale of McDonald’s fifty billionth hamburger.