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Thursday, October 9, 2014

104. A Tribute to S. Truett Cathy

One of the greats passed away last month on September 8th, 2014 at the age 93. Samuel Truett Cath was the founder and former chairman of Chick-fil-A. In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Cathy as the 380th richest man in America with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. (see link below)

But let’s talk about legacy for a few minutes. Who hasn’t heard of Chick-fil-A? Mr. Truett served in World War II and later opened his first restaurant with his brother Ben in 1946. It was in 1961 that Mr. Truett invented the boneless chicken-breast sandwich that has become a sensation throughout the United States. Chick-fil-A serves some of the best chicken sandwiches around. They’re closed on Sundays. They’re family friendly. And they provide exceptional service.

Today, Chick-fil-A is the largest chicken restaurant chain in the fast-food industry. It boasts of $5.5 billion in sales annually with an amazing 47 years of consecutive annual sales increases.

So what is Mr. Truett's legacy?

First, Mr. Truett believed in himself and stuck to his values. Despite only having a high-school education he was convinced he could win. His values included a Christian world-view. Mr. Truett was unwavering in his belief that Sunday was a day of worship and rest. while this policy may have drawn criticism and according to some hurt business with the “Closed on Sunday” policy Mr. Truett stayed true to his values.

Second, Mr. Truett believed in hard work. Mr. Truett grew up in the Great Depression and believed that hard work was a priviledge. He didn’t give control of the company until 2013 to his son. Even on Sundays Mr. Truitt was at work with his passion of serving God and people as a Sunday School teacher for 50 years at First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia.

Third, Mr. Truitt led by example and invested in others. Mr. Truett prioritized his family and gave his team members the opportunity to be with family with the Chick-fil-A “Closed on Sundays” policy. Business was important but integrity and developing others was key to his organization.

Fourth, Mr. Truett believed in re-inventing his brand and product. Innovation is part of the Chick-fil-A culture. Chick-fil-A franchises became partners is business that created a distinct competitive advantage in the market. Chick-fil-A was also a leader in the industry, in 1967 Mr. Truett began starting up stores in shopping malls.

Fifth, Mr. Truett was a generous man.
In 1984 Mr. Truett founded the WinShape Foundation which now provides homes for over 150 kids and teenagers in three states.  Mr. Truett also started a scholarship programs in 1973 which has awarded $1,000 scholarships in the amount of over $30 million.

Sixth, Mr. Truett was a humble man throughout his life. He and his wife, Jeannette, lived in the same house in Atlanta for decades. Mr. Truett understood the value of money.

Mr. Truett will go down in history as one of the most influential leaders with the likes of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

What will be your legacy?



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