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People Who Have Advanced Up the Corporate Ladder

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It may not seem real to you when someone says that you can become president of a corporation. Yet a few people do achieve these heights. However, beneath the level of president there are a great number of positions in the fast food industry that give their holders jobs with considerable responsibility. The possibility of your advancing up the fast food career ladder may seem more real to you after you have read the following stories about people with successful and satisfying careers in the industry.

An Area Manager's Story

Fifty years ago, hamburgers were selling for five cents at White Castle, and entry-level workers were being paid 28 cents an hour. That's the way it was when Jack Reynolds went to work for this fast food chain in St. Louis, and he's stayed with the company all these years as he climbed the career ladder to become an area manager.

Entry-Level Worker: Beginning as a part-time worker, Reynolds was frequently expected to run the White Castle unit by himself. He would take orders, work the griddle, make sandwiches, serve drinks, ring money up on the cash register, and keep the place clean. The work was hard, and the hours were long. But in a very short time, Reynolds found that he liked the job, so he quit high school and became a full-time employee.

Manager: Right from the start, Reynolds felt that he had a good opportunity to work his way up in the White Castle organization. He enjoyed regular wage increases even though they were only two cents an hour in the beginning days of his career. Furthermore, by the time he left his original store to join the Navy in 1943, he was a Castle supervisor, which is what this chain calls its unit managers.

District Supervisor: After World War II, Reynolds completed high school and returned to the same White Castle in St. Louis as a Castle supervisor. He stayed in supervision for the next eight years, supervising one, two, or three units and becoming a district supervisor whose office was his car and briefcase.

Area Supervisor: Reynolds then moved to the local White Castle office and took on the added responsibilities of doing all the hiring for the district, keeping the warehouse in order, and acting as office manager while he was also working as a district supervisor. His next step up the ladder was to become an area supervisor, which was a more administrative job.

Assistant Area Manager: It took Jack 30 years to get to this level. But during those years, he had gone from being a part-time employee in a White Castle to running all the White Castles in St. Louis as an assistant area manager.

Area Manager: After a two-year stint as assistant area manager, Reynolds went to Detroit for four years as an area manager and then to Chicago, where he has been area manager of the largest White Castle area in the country for the last 11 years. Within this area he supervises 2,000 employees who serve 2 million sandwiches a week.

In his long career, Reynolds has never worked for another company. He has stayed with White Castle because the company has always treated him fairly and because the opportunity was always there for advancement. Reynolds has taken advantage of that opportunity, and he is very proud of the fact that four of his former assistants have taken advantage of the same opportunity and become area managers.

A Vice-President's Story

Fate plays a role in how people become involved with the fast food industry. John Hyduke's parents bought a "Dairy Queen" store in Wisconsin when he was 16 years old. Since his parents both owned and operated the store, the store became a family venture with Hyduke and his sisters working there. In fact, Hyduke never worked anywhere else while he was growing up, as his father arranged for him to work part-time at another "Dairy Queen" while he attended college.

Manager: After graduation from college in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, Hyduke went to work for Ford Motor Credit. Within a short time he realized that he really enjoyed working in the fast food industry more. His parents introduced him to an investor who was building a "Dairy Queen" store in Florida, and Hyduke was hired as manager of the store and even assisted in its construction.

District Manager: One year later, the American "Dairy Queen" corporation district manager told Hyduke there were vacancies at the district manager level. Hyduke applied for a job and became the district manager in Atlanta, supervising 44 stores.

Regional Manager: After two-and-a-half years as a district manager, Hyduke was on the move again. This time he became a regional manager in Memphis in charge of six districts and 235 "Dairy Queen" stores. It was 1977, and the fast food industry was growing by leaps and bounds.

Young people with experience were climbing up the corporate ladder at an incredible rate of speed, and Hyduke was one of those people.

Director of Franchise Development: Hyduke spent four-and-a-half years as a regional manager before he moved further up the ladder to company headquarters as the director of franchise development. At this level he was in charge of franchise sales and store site selection for all new stores.

Vice-President of Franchise Development: In 1986, while only in his mid-30s, Hyduke became an A.D.Q. vice-president. He attributes his rapid rise up the corporate ladder to several things. He likes to deal with people, and the fast food business is definitely people oriented. And he really knows how the business operates from the store level on up, which is a big asset as fast food companies want people with operations experience.

A President's Story

It was 1972, and William Prather was 25 years old. He was also in California and without a job when he was offered a job as an assistant manager of a Burger King restaurant. He took the job, and with that step his rapid ascent up the fast food ladder began. In just one year, he became manager of the restaurant. And within one more year he had the job of franchise district manager.

Rapid Advancement: After three years as a franchise district manager, Prather became area manager of Greensboro, North Carolina. Two years in this position and he was on the move again as he was named vice-president of the Dallas region. From there he went on to be vice-president in Burger King's Boston and Atlanta regions.
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