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John F Love
NEW YORK • TORONTO • LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND
MCDONALD'S: BEH!ND THE ARCHES
A Bantam Book
Bantam hardcovcr edition/November 1986
Bantam revised trade paperback edition/August 19.95
Ali photographs courtesy of McDonald's Corporation.
Ali rights reserued
Copyright© 1986, 19.95 by John F. Loue
Book design by Barbara N. Cohen
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Love, .lo!m F
McDonald 's: bellind the arc/7es /John F Love - Reu. cd.
1. McDonald's Corporation.
2. Kroc, Ray. 19023. Restaurateurs-United States-Biography.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including pllotocopying, recording, or by any information storage and re trie val
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.
ISBN 0-553-34 759-l
Pub!islted simultaneously in the United States and Canada
Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of
Random House, Jnc. Jts trademark, consisting of the words
"Bantom Books" and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in
U.S Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
Ma rea Registrada. Bantam Books, New York, New York.
In memory of Philip W. Love,
father, reader and storyteller,
and fascinated observer of hu man events.
This is not a corporate book, not the type of history that companies
commiSsion to commemorate sorne mitestone. 1 am an independent
journalist, and McDonald's Corporation had no editorial control over
However, 1 could never have revea!ed the secrets of success of
one of Americ:a's most visible but !east understood corporations without obtaining its cooperation in the reporting process.
Rarely has a company revealed so much about itself to an outsider. That is particularly surprising for McDonald's, traditionally one of
America's most secretive companies. Yet, whcn it cornes to this book,
no question went unanswered; no source was inaccessible. lt has taken
four and a half years and interviews with more than three hundred
people inside and outside of McDonald's to complete the book, but
this close-up view of McDonald's was only feasible because the corn·
pany was willing to subject itself to such intensive scmtiny. 1 have
Senior Chairman Fred Turner to thank for that.
1 am also thankful to the many people who agreed to be interviewed and to share their persona! experiences. The McDonald's System-ils corporate executiv~s, its franchisees, and its suppliers-is too
broad and diverse to be exPlained merely through interviews with top
executives. Th us this book tells the persona! stories of clozens of inclividuals who are closely associated with the McDonald's System and
who give us their unique perspectives on it.
Given the detailed repotting required, 1 could never have completed a project such as this without some special assistance from a
number of people inside McDonald's. 1 benefited enormously from
research provided by Ken Props, the eighty-three-year-olcl clirector of
Jicensing. Ken is a walking encyclopedia on McDonald's, and 1 was
fortunate thal he was an open book to me-each week sending me
aclclitional historical data. My special thanks also to Helen Farrell and
Gloria Nelson, who gathered and verifiee! hundreds of facts, making
this a more complete and current work. lnterviewing so many sources
would also have been a much more difficult task were it not for the
assistance of Merne Bremner and Jan Woody, who located sources,
hclped arrange interviews, and opened doors to contacts who otherwise wou lei not have been as receptive. Finally, 1am indebted to Chuck
Rubner of McDonalcl's, who coordinated the search for historical photographs.
This final version of the McDonald's history bas been favorably
innuenced by Ann Poe, who read the initial manuscript and suggested
revisions. Ann's enthusiasm for the McDonald's story gave me a boast
at a critical point-when the first draft is clone and the author is
drainee!. Sile helped me see how much better the story wou id read if
the first draft were trimmed considerably. However, 1 only listened to
Ann's advice because 1saw her commitment to the quality of the book.
But the greatest commitment came from my wife, JoAnn, who was
told nearly five years ago thal this would be a one-year project. As 1
hele! two jobs for nearly the next five years, JoAnn raised our children
with too little help from me. She also supportee! me whenever the
project got more involved-and ffiore frustrating. More important, she
prodclecl me to cio what ali journalists must do, however reluctantly,
with a great story-finish it.
THE UNKNOWN McDONALD'S
Ch opter 1
Ch opter 3
THE FRANCHISING DERBY
Ch opter 4
Ch opter 6
Ch opter 7
Ch opter 8
Ci> opter 9
McDONALD's EAST, McDONALD'S WEST
"McDONALDIZING" THE SUPPLIERS
CHECKS AND BALANCES
Just outside Senior Chairman Fred Turner's former office on the eighth
Ooor of McDonald's Plaza in Oak Brook, Illinois, the suburb west of
Chicago where McDonald's Corporation is headquartered, there used
to be a small circular conference room called the "war room." lt was
where top management meetings were held, and if the name seems
pretentious, it depicts with remarkable accuracy how seriously this
company plays the hamburger game.
There is little else pretentious about it. Like everything at McDon·
ald's, the war room is strictly functional, even egalitarian. lt has little
more than a large circular table where corporate managers face one
another as equals and freely debate policies. There is no mahogany
furniture, no high-back leather chairs, and no ex pensive wood panel·
ing. The room is devoid of any trappings thal might be expectecl in
the inner sanctum of an organization with an nuai worldwicle, sales of
$24 billion and climbing.
Even the telephone is a Bell misfit, with one of those numbers thal
gets more than its share of misdialed calls. On one suc:h occasion,
Turner himself interrupts a meeting to lake the cali. "Hello, McDonald's," he answers. The caller is confused, and Turner clarifies: "No,
you've called McDonald's Corporation." The caller still does not under·
stand, and lUrner persists with a final clarification: "We're the ham·
Forget that the caller unwittingly has the chairman of the world's
largest food service company on the line. The real puzzle is that Ile
needs an explanation of what McDonald's is. This is the system thal
spends more than $1 billion a year promoting the most advertised