Ray Kroc- Mastermind behind the Worlds Largest Fast-food franchise MacDonald
Personal Life and Early Career
Ray Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on October 5, 1902. He was of Austria-Hungarian origin and spent most of his childhood in Oak Park. At the age of 15, Ray lied about his age to become a Red Cross ambulance driver during the First World War. After which he tried his hand at various other jobs between 1918 and early 1950s. These includes paper cup salesman, pianist, jazz musician and a local DJ at Oak Park radio station. Eventually he became a sales person for a multi-mixer milkshake machine and started traveling around the country.
It was during this time when he met the MacDonald brothers (Richard and Maurice MacDonald) who owned a then small restaurant fast food chain called MacDonald’s. Ray was surprised at the effectiveness of their operation. They produced a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items—burgers, fries and beverages—which allowed them to focus on quality at every step.
Ray was convinced that this small successful restaurant business had the potential to explode across the nation. Ray Krocs offered his services to the MacDonald brothers and started a partnership with them as a Franchising agent.
Ray’s Unique Philosophy
Ray Kroc wanted to build a restaurant system that would be famous for food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparation. Meaning despite its location, a burger served in Alaska would taste the same as the one served in Alabama.
In order to achieve this, Ray had to convince both franchisees and suppliers to buy into his vision. “In business for yourself, but not by yourself.” was a slogan which Ray Kroc promoted. His philosophy was based on the simple principle of a 3-legged stool: one leg was McDonald’s, the second, the franchisees, and the third, McDonald’s suppliers. The stool was only as strong as the 3 legs.
Ray Kroc strongly believed in innovation. In fact many of McDonald’s most famous menu items—like the Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and the Egg McMuffin— were created by franchisees. However at the same time, the McDonald’s operating system insisted franchisees follow the core McDonald’s principles of quality, service, cleanliness and value. This is to maintain the standard which Ray truly values.
1954 – Birth of MacDonald’s Corporation (Partnership between MacDonald Brothers and Ray Kroc)
1955 – Kroc became president of the McDonald’s Corporation
1958 – MacDonald sold its 100 millionth hamburger
1959 – 100th resturant opens in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
1960 – over 200 McDonald’s around the United States
1961 – McDonald’s became Kroc’s company in 1961, when he gave the McDonald brothers $2.7 million for their share of the corporation
1964 – Ray Kroc sold stocks in the company
1972 – Kroc gave $8 million to some of his top employees
1973 – Started the Kroc Foundation, which supported research on diabetes (which killed his daughter Marilyn in 1973), arthritis, and multiple sclerosis
1974 – The first Ronald MacDonald House opens on October 15, 1974 in Philadelphia. These homes were located near hospitals where families can stay for free while their children receive medical treatment
1977 – Kroc reassigned himself to the role of senior chairman
1984 – Kroc held his position until his death in 1984
Ray Kroc was a true visionary, he turned a small time fast-food restaurant to one of the biggest in the world. What was even more impressive was the fact that he did it when he was in his fifties. He would be an excellent example a creative innovator as he was able to see the potential in this small fast-food joint owned by the MacDonald brothers. His ability to change this small restaurant into something known all over the world is truly remarkable. He would definitely be under the category of ‘Innovators’ within the diffusion of innovation chart as his thinking and creativity was ahead of his time and he definitely dared to challenge already developed fast food restaurants such as Burger King.
Ray Kroc’s business philosophy is also an interesting piece of information. He valued and respected all who was in the business with him, be it the franchiser or the supplier, and worked towards building a strong relationship with each of them. This shows his charisma which is a useful trait for a leader such as himself.
Besides having charisma, Ray Kroc had many other good traits of a leader. He was a person who dared to exploit opportunities, anticipate change and was able to lead his organisation towards his objectives. All of which he had accomplished as he was President of the MacDonald corporation.
Ray Kroc was also a very hardworking person, having worked all the way till he could not. This is an example of someone who was never complacent and someone who shrived for continuous improvement.
Ray Kroc a Visionary, an Innovator and a Leader.