Ray Kroc was an American entrepreneur, known for expanding McDonald’s from a local chain to the world’s most profitable restaurant franchise operation. Kroc also utilized standardization to ensure that the McDonald’s food products to taste the same in all the outlets. He revolutionized the American restaurant industry with the new & developed operating and delivery system. On January 14, 1984, Kroc died of heart failure at the age of eighty-one and was buried at El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley, San Diego. He is survived by his third wife, Joan.
Early life and Education of Ray Kroc
Ray Kroc was born Raymond Albert Kroc on October 5, 1902, in San Diego, California, United States. He belongs to White-American ethnicity and holds American nationality.
Kroc was the son of Czech origin, Rose Mary (Hrach) and Alois "Louis" Kroc, a native of Brasy, Plzen, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). He had two younger siblings; Robert Kroc and Lorraine Kroc.
As a child, Kroc joined piano lessons and opened a lemonade stand and worked at the soda fountain which showed his interest in the business.
While studying at the grammar school, Kroc started earning extra cash by doing odd jobs at grocery or drugstores. Later he began selling lemonade at a stand outside his home. It was his first stint with food business.
At the age of fourteen, Kroc, along with two of his friends, opened a music store, ‘Ray Kroc Music Emporium,' selling sheet music while Kroc played the piano. But, it closed down after a few months.
A few years later, Kroc returned to Chicago and at his father’s insistence, rejoined Lincoln School to complete his schooling. However, by then, he had new ideas, and therefore Kroc dropped out of school once again, ready to venture out into a real world, earning his living.
Ray Kroc's Career
At the age of seventeen, Ray Kroc began his career as a pianist at a nightclub and as a DJ at the local radio station in 1919. Subsequently, he held a series of jobs, selling everything from real estate in Fort Lauderdale to feminine accessories and embellishments.
Young, ambitious and hardworking, he traveled around the country, selling paper cups. Kroc took care of his customers’ needs and often kept in touch with them. His dedication listed him as one of the top salesmen of the company.
Kroc earned exclusive marketing rights of a mixture company and at the age of 31, gave up his steady job to form Prince Castle Sales. After the formation of the company, he sold 8000 mixers in a year.
In 1954, Kroc went to a restaurant in San Bernardino, California owned by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald; that reportedly needed number of his multi-mixers.
Kroc was impressed by the efficiency of operation, which rapidly catered to its customers by focusing on a simple menu of the burgers, french fries, and shakes.
In 1959, McDonald's had opened restaurant’s 100th franchise. However, he still wasn't getting significant profits.
Taking the advice of Harry J. Sonneborn, who became the McDonald’s Corp.'s first president, Kroc set up a system in which the company purchased and leased land to new franchises.
In 1965, Kroc became President of McDonald’s and began a training program for franchises owners, emphasizing the standardization of operations as well as automation.
Kroc made strict rules about the cooking procedure, size of each product, packaging, etc. so that McDonald's Hamburger's appreciation was the same all over the country.
Kroc became the President of McDonald’s until 1968. Later, he became the Chairman of the Board, holding the position until 1977. Finally, from 1977 until his death in 1984, Kroc remained the Senior Chairman of the company.
Ray Kroc's Personal life
In 1922, Ray Kroc first married his high school sweetheart, Ethel Fleming. The pair together has a daughter, Marilyn Kroc. They divorced in 1961.
Kroc again married for the second time with a secretary, Jane Dobbins Green, in 1963 and like his previous marriage it also ended in divorce in 1968.
In 1969, Kroc married a philanthropist, Joan Kroc with whom he met in 1957.
Kroc was an alcoholic and also suffered from diabetes and arthritis. In 1980, after suffering a stroke, Kroc was admitted to a rehabilitation center for his alcoholism.
On January 14, 1984, Kroc died of heart failure at the age of eighty-one and was buried at El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley, San Diego. He is survived by his third wife, Joan.
Several McDonald's executives still decorate their offices with Kroc's favorite inspirational quote:
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
Upon his death, his remaining $2.7 billion fortune was distributed among a number of nonprofit organizations in 2003. About $1.5 billion of his fortune was donated to The Salvation Army to build 26 Kroc Centers.
Ray Kroc's Net worth
Upon his passing, his wife Joan Kroc acquired his fortune, estimated at $500 million.
Kroc established the Ronald McDonald House foundation. He was a major donor to Dartmouth Medical School. A lifelong Republican, he believed firmly in self-reliance and staunchly opposed government welfare and the New Deal.