McDONALD'S: Behind the Arches by John F. Love

McDONALD'S: Behind the Arches

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Nice guys don't always finish last, as this meticulously researched version of the McDonald's success story makes clear. It's nutritionally rich in insights on the creativity of the adaptive, fair-dealing folks who developed the US fast-food industry, then took it global. McDonald's licenses and owns a chain of more than 9,000 self-service restaurants whose menus are built around hamburgers; it operates throughout North America and in 40 foreign countries. Love, a former Business Week editor, offers an account of the company's genesis (less than 30 years ago) and heady growth, which indeed takes readers behind the gaudy golden arches that once marked every retail outlet. Included are vivid portraits of the late founder, Ray Kroc (who had the foresight to let franchisees and suppliers achieve wealth before him), the McDonald brothers (local pioneers of the techniques Kroc applied to mass markets), and Harry Sonneborn (the all-but-forgotten financial genius responsible for the system's lucrative real-estate base). Love also probes the company's unusually cordial relationships with its 300 or so no-name vendors. More contentious, Love reports, are the chain's relations with 2,200-odd franchisees, most of whom have become very rich as a result of their association. Still entrepreneurial to the extent that they can claim much of the credit for new or breakthrough products--Big Macs, etc--the ultraindependent franchisees have begun biting at the hand that feeds them; ever responsive, the parent organization has appointed an ombudsman to deal with their beefs, so to speak. Love provides a definitive corporate history that accentuates the positive without ignoring the implications of the rough spots encountered along the upward track. Among other interim setbacks, he covers McDonald's unhappy experience under price controls (exacerbated by a Kroc contribution to President Nixon's re-election campaign) and a confrontation with the black community in Cleveland (which produced a formal minority-recruitment program). In brief, then, an engrossing narrative, with enough good yams to appeal to a general readership and inside information sufficient to engage the attention of those interested in the business aspects of an indigenous gastronomic institution.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 0553347594
Publisher: Bantam