Hospitality Hall of Honor
S. Truett Cathy
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|Founder & Chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc.|
|S. Truett Cathy is founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as The Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House). Through the years, that restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business. In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center. Today, Chick-fil-A is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual sales. |
In 2006, Cathy celebrated his 60th anniversary in the restaurant business with industry-wide recognition: a local celebration at his first restaurant, The Dwarf House, in Hapeville, Georgia, and the opening of the third Truett’s Grill location—a concept the chain first introduced in 1996 to recognize Cathy’s then-50th anniversary in the restaurant industry. In 2007, Cathy celebrated another milestone—the 40th anniversary of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.
As of February 2010, there are more than 1,480 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Remarkably, Cathy has led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 42 consecutive years of annual sales increases. Cathy’s approach is largely driven by personal satisfaction and a sense of obligation to the community and its young people.
His WinShape Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to “shape winners” by helping young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs. The foundation annually awards 20 to 30 students wishing to attend Berry College with scholarships up to $32,000 that are jointly funded by WinShape and Berry. In addition, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, the Chick-fil-A chain has given more than $23.3 million in scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973. In 2010, the company will award more than $1.9 million in scholarships to its restaurant team members.
As part of his WinShape Homes program, a long-term care program for foster children, eight foster care homes have been started in Georgia, two in Tennessee and one each in Alabama and Brazil, all operated by Cathy and the WinShape Foundation. These homes, accommodating up to 12 children and each with two full-time foster parents, provide long-term care for foster children in a positive family environment. Another core component distinguishing WinShape programs is WinShape Camps—founded in 1985 as residential, two-week summer camps to impact young people and families through experiences that enhance their Christian faith, character and relationships. More than 1,900 campers from throughout the country attend WinShape Camps annually.
In 2003, Cathy helped his son and daughter-in-law, Bubba and Cindy, celebrate the opening of WinShape Retreat, a high-end retreat and conference facility also located on the Mountain Campus of Berry College. The multi-use facility hosts marriage-enrichment retreats along with business and church-related conferences, and in summer months houses WinShape Camp for girls.
Cathy has built his life and business based on hard work, humanity and biblical principles. Based on these principles, all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants are closed on Sundays without exception. When not managing his company, Cathy donates his time to community efforts and teaches a Sunday school class to teenagers.
Cathy has received countless awards over the years, including: The Cecil B. Day Ethics Award (2007); The Silver Buffalo Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America (2007); the Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award (2007); the Greater Dallas FCA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poultry & Food Distributors Association (2005); the Norman Vincent & Ruth Stafford Peale Humanitarian Award (2003); the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award from Injoy/John Maxwell (2003); the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame-Chairman’s Award (2003); the Ernst & Young-Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); and the Horatio Alger Award. (1989). He also is the author of the books “It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail,” “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People,” “It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men,” “How Did You Do It, Truett?” and is co-author of “The Generosity Factor” with Ken Blanchard.
In addition to presiding over one of the most successful restaurant chains in America, Cathy is a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. His two sons, Dan and Don (“Bubba”), have both followed their father into the business. Dan became president of Chick-fil-A in August 2001 and Bubba is senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, Inc., president of the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House division, and vice president of the WinShape Foundation. His daughter, Trudy Cathy White, serves as the girl’s director with Winshape Camps. In 2006, Cathy welcomed the third generation of Cathy family members to the business.
Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, have 12 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren as of 2010 and more than 150 “foster grandchildren.”