People who start businesses later in life tend to be fanatics about customer service. It isn’t hard to figure out why. When you’ve been a customer yourself for a few decades, you develop an appreciation for exceptional service – and learn how to take care of your own customers.
These late-blooming entrepreneurs cultivate a culture and systems based upon their dedication to service. In larger organizations, this philosophy gets passed on to the next generation of team members. And then to the next.
Maybe this explains why several iconic companies founded by 4o-and-older entrepreneurs are stepping up during COVID-19. You can read about some these companies below. Their founders aren’t with us any longer – but if they were, they would be proud of their companies’ efforts to help their employees, customers and communities during a time of need.
Mary Kay — The cosmetics company is dedicating part of its global supply chain and manufacturing capabilities to producing hand sanitizer. The first products off the line will be for donation to those on the front lines addressing the pandemic. Mary Kay’s founder is Mary Kay Ash, who started the company when she was 45 years old.
McDonald’s – Participating locations are giving away free Thank You meals to first responders and health care workers until May 5. Sixty five years ago, founder Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s franchise when he was 52 years old.
Walmart – The retail giant has a partnership with Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking service, to make it easier for neighbors to help each other during the pandemic. Under the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative, Nextdoor members can request assistance – or offer to help a neighbor — with shopping for essential items at Walmart. Sam Walton opened his first Walmart when he was in his mid-40s.
Ford Motor Company – So far, the auto manufacturer has shipped more than 5 million face shields from its subsidiary, Troy Design and Manufacturing. TDM, which normally makes metal stamped parts for prototype vehicles, transitioned its mission to address the shortage of personal protective equipment needed to fight COVID-19. Henry Ford launched his auto company when he was 40.
Sperry – Best known for its deck shoes, Sperry is donating to the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, a nonprofit providing emergency financial assistance to footwear employees facing difficult times due to COVID-19. Sperry also created a social media platform intended to lift spirits by providing daily self-care to relieve stress. Sperry’s creator is Paul A. Sperry, a life-long sailor who spent years trying to perfect a non-slip shoe – and finally found a way at age 40.
KFC – The restaurant chain is sending one million pieces of chicken to KFC restaurants across the country, earmarked specifically to support local communities in need during COVID-19. KFC’s founder is one of the business world’s best-known late bloomers: Colonel Sanders, who launched his company when he was well into his 60s.
Gillette – As part of a multi-faceted effort, Gillette is donating more than one million razors to healthcare workers and first responders worldwide. It’s also producing and donating 100,000 face shields to Massachusetts healthcare organizations. King C. Gillette was 48 when his company began selling its safety razor in 1903.
As the pandemic wears on, it’s heartening to see both companies and individuals doing what they can to help others. Stay strong, everyone.