On this day, October 5 in the year 1902, the mastermind of the modern fast-food industry was born in Illinois, USA. His name was Ray Kroc, the visionary who was responsible for the phenomenal growth of McDonald’s restaurant.
Ray Kroc was the son of Czech immigrants who found and then lost fortune in real estate. While still in grammar school, his business instinct began to show up when he put up a lemonade stand, followed by a music store. He also sold ice cream and other refreshments in his uncle’s soda fountain. He quit school very early so he spent his teenage years hopping from one job to another, starting as a Red Cross ambulance driver at 15.
Through the years, Ray Kroc worked as a salesman for paper cups, real estate, and milkshake machine called “Multimixer”. After the war, sales of the Multimixer began to slow down. Then in 1954, he heard a restaurant in California who bought 8 of his machine and were using them non-stop. Intrigued, he paid the restaurant a visit. There, he learned of how the brothers Dick and Mac McDonald were making hamburgers very quickly and selling them cheaply. Instantly, he had a vision of a thousand McDonald’s dotting the whole country, each using 8 of his milkshake machine.
Ray made the proposal to the brothers to build branches across the US but they were not interested. Instead, they agreed to give him the right to sell the McDonald’s method. In 1955, he opened his owned McDonald’s Restaurant in a suburb of Chicago. He sold another 18 franchises but he was not making money. At the suggestion of a friend, he purchased the land on which the franchisee would build the store. This way, he would earn not only the 1.9% fee on gross sales but also rent for using his land.
Due to some disagreements with the brothers regarding changes in the menu, Ray sought to have full control of the operation. In 1961, he purchased the McDonald’s interest for $2.7 million-cash. In 1965, the company had 700 restaurants in 44 states. That same year, it became a publicly-listed company.
Ray Kroc died of heart failure in 1984 at the age of 81. He had only 1 child though he married three times. At present, McDonald’s has over 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and with more than 300,000 employees.