Ray A. Kroc*
At age 52, Ray Kroc became the exclusive distributor for a company that produced “multi-mixer” milk shake machines. He was impressed by a small chain of hamburger restaurants based in San Bernardino, California that used the multi-mixers, and acquired franchising rights from the owners, the McDonald brothers. In 1955, he founded the McDonald Brothers for $2.7 million, borrowed at interest rates which eventually made the cost $14 million. As the new owner, he was free to run the business his own way, but never changed the fundamental format devised by the brothers. Cleanliness was foremost and essential. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” was one of his favorite axioms. By 1963, more than 1 billion hamburgers had been sold, a statistic that was displayed on a neon sign in front of each restaurant. With restaurants in more than 114 countries, McDonald’s represents Americana. Kroc had the cunning ability to grasp a concept with all its complexities and implement it in the best possible way.