2008 Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner:Â Lifetime Achievement Award
S. Truett Cathy, Founder and CEO, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
S. Truett Cathy is founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as The Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House).Â Through the years, that restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business.Â In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center.Â Today, Chick-fil-A is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual sales.
In 2006, Cathy celebrated his 60th anniversary in the restaurant business with industry-wide recognition; a local celebration at his first restaurant, The Dwarf House, in Hapeville, Georgia, and the opening of the third Truett’s GrillÂ® location – a concept the chain first introduced in 1996 to recognize Cathy’s then-50th anniversary in the restaurant industry.Â In 2007, Cathy celebrated another exciting milestone – the 40th Anniversary of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.
Currently, there are more than 1,380 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 37 states and Washington, D.C.Â Remarkably, Cathy has led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 40 consecutive years of annual sales increases.Â Cathy’s approach is largely driven by personal satisfaction and a sense of obligation to the community and its young people.Â His WinShape Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to “shape winners” by helping young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs.Â The foundation annually awards 20 to 30 students wishing to attend Berry College with scholarships up to $32,000 that are jointly funded by WinShape and Berry.Â In addition, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, the Chick-fil-A chain has given more than $23.3 million in $1,000 scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973.Â This year the company will award more than $1.4 million in scholarships to its restaurant team members.
Cathy thinks the restaurant industry means so much to Georgia. He says the GRA serves as an organization that attracts restaurant businesses.Â Cathy states, “Georgia has become a convention center attraction surrounded by large hotels, all depending on tourists.Â It is important for the restaurant industry to focus on taking care of these industries rendering courtesy and kindness.Â People like to come to cities where they can find hotels and good food.Â Hotels and food are a large attraction and exist by the kindness of people.”Â Â In order to attract customers, you must be consistent and courteous.Â “It is important to do things right each and every time, be consistent in the quality of food and quality people providing the service.
Cathy predicts major industry trends for 2009 to be people eating out more often, a change in the quality of food and quality of service. He counts food costs, industry competition, and economic conditions all as challenges facing the industry today. Cathy advises anyone just starting out in the industry to have a tremendous amount of “want to.” Cathy notes “your reward from pleasing customers is the satisfaction of knowing you did your very best.”