No. 1180



If there is one thing we need in these trying and tumultuous times, is to have more good role models -- men and women who are doing it right or have done it right, and provide a sterling example the rest of us would do well to emulate.
One of these individuals, in my mind and hopefully yours as well, is the late S. Truett Cathy (1921-2014), founder of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain. While I never met Mr. Cathy personally, I had the opportunity to interact with him several years ago when he wrote the foreword for one of my books. This came about when the Chick-Fil-A ad agency in Atlanta contacted me about doing a column on one of his books titled, “It’s better to build boys than to mend men.”
This was about the time I was wrapping up a book I had written titled, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back,” and was thinking about who I wanted to write the foreword. It occurred to me that no one could do it better than Truett Cathy. As a result, I invited Mr. Cathy to do this for me and he accepted my invitation. It was during this process that I learned more about his background and knew that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I had made a wise decision. The success of his highly acclaimed national restaurant chain is pretty widely known, but not many people know much about his personal life and how it all got started.
Truett grew up in the West End section of Atlanta. As an 8-year-old boy during the Depression years he had a Coca-Cola stand in his front yard and also delivered the Atlanta Journal newspaper to subscribers on his route in the downtown public housing neighborhood. It was here that he began to realize that putting “People First” would help him achieve the kind of success he desired. I might add this philosophy has enabled his company, Chick-Fil-A, to have the highest same-store sales and is the largest quick service restaurant chain in the United States, based on annual system wide sales.
Mr. Cathy’s business experience began in 1946 when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as the Dwarf Grill, and later changed the name to the Dwarf House. Through the years the philosophy that he learned early in life putting “People First” helped him prosper and led him to further the success of his business. In 1967, he founded and opened the first Chick-Fil-A in an Atlanta shopping center. His slogan was, “We didn’t invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich.” As his company grew and God blessed his business, it gave him and his employees an opportunity to give something back.
Because of his faith and the regular teaching of God’s Word (he taught a 13-year-old boys’ Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., for 50 years) he made the statement, “I see no conflict between Biblical principles and good business practices. I believe corporate America needs something more than the bottom line and our restaurants are not open on Sunday, as they have been since 1946. It is important to me that our employees have a day of rest to spend time with their families or to worship if they choose.”
While Truett Cathy never attended college, his company gives over $1 million annually in college scholarships to their employees, over $35 million since 1973, and the company is involved in many other ways to help young people. He was truly a sterling example. By the way, if you have enjoyed today’s column, “IT’S MY PLEASURE.”

(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)