“I was an orphan and grew up with foster parents. I was sent out into the world with only a few dollars into my pocket.”—Dave Thomas
In a midwestern city, my wife, Ruth, and I were guests in the exquisitely beautiful home of an unusually successful businessman, one who has created an innovative and famous enterprise.
Previously I had the privilege of conferring upon him the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, given to distinguished Americans who have risen from poverty to positions of honor and influence.
“Where were you born, Dave?” I asked our host.
“I don’t know. I think Atlantic City,” was his surprising reply. “Nor do I know who my parents were. I was an orphan and grew up with foster parents. I was sent out into the world with only a few dollars into my pocket.” After many vicissitudes, this orphan boy got a busboy job with a restaurant owner in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A hard worker who had the ability to think, Dave did a good job. Eventually the boss sent him to see what could be done with four small, failing restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. But Dave had little success with the restaurants until he realized that he had too many items on the menus. The large inventory which was required made it difficult to make a profit. With a limited menu, he turned the restaurants around.
He took his profits and opened a hamburger restaurant, because he had loved hamburgers since he was a child. He named his little restaurant after one of his daughters, Wendy, and it gradually took off.
Dave Thomas always used the best beef, constantly added new features, and created attractive outlets. He used his good mind and his strong faith to such advantage that the Wendy’s chain is rated among those at the top of this highly competitive type of food business. It’s a struggle even today, but Dave has proven he can overcome obstacles.
Men of Dave Thomas’s stature are the types of persons who constantly improve the American economy. They are perpetual new goal-setters who proceed to ever-higher levels of achievement.