Page 58





KENNETH YOUNGBLOOD | McDonald’s Kenneth Youngblood served in the Army in Europe from 1964 to 1966, and went on to college at California State University, Los Angeles, in the early 1970s. Years later and facing the prospect of losing his job in a company downsizing, he realized that relying on others for his success wasn’t working. “I need to find someplace where I can control my own destiny,” he recalled thinking. While attending a conference in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, he happened upon a McDonald’s career booth and filled out an application. It seemed like a good fit — he had worked in the restaurant industry as a teen and had always been interested in entrepreneurship. In 1988, he went on to buy a McDonald’s franchise in Philadelphia, becoming an owner-operator, in company parlance, and has since bought eight more, all in or near Philadelphia. Today, he’s a compelling spokesman for community involvement and entrepreneurship. He is active in local civic and charitable initiatives, including speaking about careers with young people and serving on the regional board of

Ronald McDonald House. On the business side, he is preparing to buy his 10th store in 2018. He believes he’s meeting his goal of controlling his destiny. Youngblood praises McDonald’s franchising system as orderly, logical and reliable. For fellow veterans looking to become owner/operators of a McDonald’s, he recommends they keep the old adage “location, location, location” in mind and to pay it forward by hiring other veterans, ROTC students and reservists. He has hired a number of them through the years and heartily endorses doing so. He has a more philosophical tip as well: “It’s all about the windshield, not the rear-view mirror,” meaning that even if people have come a relatively long way in life, they can still find success if they keep focusing on what’s ahead and what it takes to get there. Youngblood was 42 when he bought his first franchise, and he has no plans for slowing down. “I’m going out feet first,” he quipped. “I just figured it out. So why would I quit now?”

Company started franchising: 1955 Number of franchises: 3,000 owner/operators Standard startup cost: $500,000 Veteran incentives: None cited, but according to the company, McDonald’s is “committed to employing veterans in our restaurants and maintain partnerships with RecruitMilitary and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.” Veteran-owned units: No specific number cited, but there are “multiple” ones in the U.S. Website: com/mcd/franchising/ us_franchising.html

Profile for STUDIO Gannett