Management Hall of Fame
Most Respected Management Gurus

Ray Kroc
McDonald's - A Global Fast Food Business Model (1902- 1984)

  • "I believe in God, family, and McDonald's and, in the office, that order is reversed." (Ray Kroc)
  • "The world is filled with unsuccessful men of talent." (Ray Kroc)

Ray Kroc is a pioneer of fast-food franchising, he worked his way from rags to riches by building an empire the world has come to know as McDonald’s. Ray did not actually found the restaurant chain itself, however; it was started by Richard and Maurice (Mac) McDonald in 1940. After purchasing the rights to McDonald’s, Kroc worked hard and fast to spread the word of his quality food and fast service. Within a few years, he set up hundreds of restaurants, trained franchise managers and owners at his special university, and blanketed America with marketing that they couldn’t resist. His franchise managers would attend the famed Hamburger University in Illinois and would receive a BA in Hamburgerology with a Minor in French Fries. Through persuasive and unyielding advertising, the McDonald’s name became famous not only in America, but within a few years, throughout the world. Today, McDonald’s operates in over 30 countries and brings in annual revenues of over 10 billion dollars.

Key Work

  • In early teens, Ray Kroc wanted to join the American Red Cross as ambulance driver to offer his services in World War I
  • Kroc played the jazz piano with the famed Isham Jones and Harry Sosnick
  • Worked as sales representative for Lily Tulip Cup.
  • Moved from Chicago to Florida to sell real estate
  • Returned to Chicago and started selling multi-mixers, which could make five milk shakes at a time. One small restaurant named McDonald’s in California was using over five of the machines, and he wanted to know how and why. So, he traveled to California and found that the McDonald brothers had taken an assembly-line approach to food service. After offering the brothers a contract of.05% of the profits if his business plan was successful, Ray Kroc set up a McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois
  • At Age 52, Ray Kroc visited McDonald's burger restaurant in San Bernardino California. Started a Franchise Network and Opened his first McDonald's in Des Plaines, Illinois.
  • Bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million.
  • Number of hamburgers sold reaches one billion. Ronald McDonald introduced.

Through insight, innovative marketing and willing to take risk and commit at age 52 He started a global fast food franchise & changed the way the world eats.

Lesson: It is never to late to build a business empire

Books & References:

  • Kroc, Ray, with Robert Anderson. Grinding It Out: The Making Of Mcdonald's. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
  • Love, John F. McDonald's: Behind The Arches [Paperback] by Love, John F.. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam, 1999.


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