One of the best-known late-blooming entrepreneurs is Ray Kroc, creator of the McDonald’s fast-food chain. This month marks the 60th anniversary of when Kroc opened his first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois back in April 1955. He was 52 years old.
Time magazine recently retold the Ray Kroc story. Before McDonald’s, Kroc was a salesman for 34 years. For half of that time, he sold paper cups to Dairy Queen, Howard Johnson’s and other fast food retailers. The other half was spent selling a machine that could mix five milkshakes simultaneously.
When two brothers bought eight of the “Multi mixers” for their small hamburger chain in California, Kroc went there to check out their operation. That meeting with Dick and Mac McDonald changed the course of events, to put it mildly.
Kroc was so impressed with this operation that, despite the opposition of his family and friends, he opened the first franchise of what he called “the McDonald’s System.” In 1961, Kroc bought the company from the McDonald brothers.
Sixty years after its first franchise opened, McDonald’s is one of the biggest corporations in the world — and Kroc’s lessons about vision, persistence and hard work continue to inspire today’s business owners. As he once said, “I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.”