Though I never met S. Truett Cathy, I worked in one of Cathy's famous Chick-fil-A restaurants in Goldsboro for three years while attending Bible college. What I experienced during my time there was a result of Cathy's vision for excellence and standards of treating every person with the highest respect.
Cathy's passing may be completely overlooked by some, and for others it may bring back memories of a recent controversy surrounding his son and current Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy's comments in support of traditional marriage.
When I was first hired at Chick-fil-A, I was amazed at the amount of training we had to go through. I had worked in the restaurant industry during my high school years, but there had been little training or instruction on how I was to represent the organization. Most of my training at Chick-fil-A involved hours of videos, many of which featured Cathy himself and set the bar high for how each customer was to be valued. My time there was more than just a job. It was training that would prepare me for the world I was about to enter after college, and I believe that training has brought me a long way over the years. Many restaurants have tried to mimic the standards Cathy set for his own organization.
Chick-fil-A started as the Dwarf Grill in 1946. This is where Cathy's strong relationship with the Ford Motor Company began. The restaurant was near Ford's Atlanta plant and enjoyed a great deal of success in serving the employees there. What started as a small humble family business is now a nationally famous restaurant chain. Cathy also became an accomplished author and was very involved in charity work. In 2008 he was awarded the "President's Call to Service Award" by George W. Bush.
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Cathy contributed to my own success not just by teaching me important life skills such as hard work, loyalty and highly effective communication skills but also by awarding me a scholarship that paid for some of my college education. This is something Cathy did for all of his employees after a certain period of service and something Chick-fil-A still does today.
One of the biggest focuses of Chick-fil-A is its employees. In a day when many organizations care only about their bottom lines and give their employees the minimum required, Cathy led an organization that emphasized the betterment of those who worked for him.
After graduating from Bible college, I went on to serve in the ministry. Now, over four years later, I still find myself using so many of the skills I was taught at that Chick-fil-A restaurant in Goldsboro. Chick-fil-A is more than just a restaurant. It is an organization that builds up everyone it comes into contact with. I believe that is because S. Truett Cathy was a man who desired to build up every person he came into contact with.
At Chick-fil-A, customers enjoy more than just a famous chicken sandwich. They enjoy an atmosphere of friendliness that will make their day a little better. As an employee, I enjoyed managers who believed in me and rooted for my success, built friendships with co-workers that will last a lifetime and learned skills I will use for the rest of my life. This was the vision Cathy had for his organization. Imagine what a world it would be if there were more CEOs like Samuel Truett Cathy.
Bryan McDowell of Milwaukee
is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.