Working as a milkshake machine distributor in 1954, Ray Kroc (1902-1984) took notice of a successful hamburger stand in San Bernardino, Calif., which he called on, intending to sell brothers Dick and Mac McDonald more Multimixers. He learned they were interested in a nationwide franchising agent. Kroc, 52 at the time, decided his future was in hamburgers and partnered with the brothers. He opened his first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Ill., in 1955 and bought out the McDonald brothers in 1961.
Kroc did not take a salary during his first 8 years, and to overcome constant cash-flow problems, Kroc borrowed money from two cash value life insurance policies (and also his bank) to help cover the salaries of key employees. He also used some of the money to create an advertising campaign around emerging mascot Ronald McDonald.
Using a progressive franchising arrangement and striving for consistency and standardization throughout the chain, McDonald’s grew to more than 700 restaurants within 10 years. Today, McDonald’s serves more than 50 million people each day through more than 30,000 locations in 119 countries.