Religious CEOs: Chick-fil-A Founder, S. Truett Cathy
The creator of this fast food chain believes his chicken sandwich business was "a gift from the Lord."
Religion is at the key of the family-operated business, says Cathy, whose son Dan is the chief operating officer and whose other son, Bubba, is a vice president. According to the family patriarch, "Our decision to close on Sundays was our way of honoring God and directing our attention to things more important than our business." The company's stance on religion is so serious that part of its mission statement states: The purpose of Chick-fil-A is to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. Cathy has also told Forbes magazine, "The Lord has never spoken to me, but I feel Chick-fil-A has been his gift."
According to the company's website, closing on Sunday sends two messages: It values their employee's spirituality and places a high level of importance on its employees.
To Cathy it's much more than a business. Prospective employees are screened on loyalty, wholesome values, and willingness to buy into the Christian credo. People who apply for an operator license are asked to disclose marital status, number of dependents, and involvement in community, civic, social, church, and/or professional organizations. According to the Forbes story, even though Cathy says that employees don't have to be Christian to work at Chick-fil-A, they do have to base their work on biblical principles.
Religion has always been part of Cathy's life. He's a member of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, and also has taught Sunday school for more than 50 years. Cathy grew up in Eatonton, Georgia. He opened the Dwarf Grill (which later became the Dwarf House) in 1945 and started the chain in 1967 with a single store in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall. Since the restaurant opened, it has posted 41 consecutive annual sales increases.
The company's religious beliefs permeated into pop culture when Chick-fil-A received prime product placement in the 2008 Christian-themed film Fireproof. In one scene the main character, working to save his troubled marriage, offers his wife a bowl of soothing Chick-fil-A chicken noodle soup.
When Cathy heard about the movie and its message he immediately began connecting the movie's writers (two brothers who worked at the chain as teenagers) with marriage ministry nonprofits around the country to help with the film's marketing efforts.
The religious beliefs became a point of contention when a Houston Muslim employee sued the company in 2002, alleging that he was fired for his religious beliefs. The case was settled out of court.
While some may debate its religious ties, it's hard to debate the success of the chain which, according to the company, has sold more than 247 million Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches -- enough to create an unbroken trail from Atlanta to Seattle almost six times.
New! The Stock Playbook on Minyanville provides nightly actionable trading ideas from Dave Dispennette. Dave's portfolio has averaged +40% per year over the last six years. Access his portfolio and get his trading insights each night. Take a FREE 14 day trial. Learn more.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daily Recap Newsletter