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Eat Mor Chikin – Family Owned Corporations

Last week I had an experience that momentary carried me back to my first job out of college, working for Steelcase, Inc. in Grand Rapids, MI.

The moment of déjà vu came on a tour of the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, GA that our peer learning group, the Chicago 7, had the opportunity to take.

It happened because, like Steelcase back in the 1980’s:

It obvious Chick-fil-A’s corporate office and its employees clearly show the values and mission of the company.

That Chick-fil-A is also on a fast track of growth in terms of sales, stores and markets.

And Chick-fil-A places a high value on its employees and store operators. For example, Chick-fil-A encourages its employees to use, free of charge and during working hours, the on-site health and fitness center, and provides all employees free meals in the corporate dining room (I had grilled tuna).

But I as I listened to our tour guide, Andrea Lee, talk about the company and its leadership, that’s when my déjà vu was strongest.

You see, Chick-fil-A, like Steelcase’s first 75 years, is family owned and family lead. The Cathy family believes their company’s purpose is something more significant than just a return on stockholder’s equity. It’s clear they believe Chick-fil-A can and should improve the lives of its employees, store operating partners, the communities it operates in, and of course its customers. It seems chicken is just a means to a greater end – that end being inspired people, stronger families, better communities and ultimately – glory to God.

It’s a vision, I have no doubt, if held to, will continue to bring great returns on investment, not just to the stockholders, but more importantly to all the lives Chick-fil-A touches. And it’s a vision worth emulating.

Order S. Truett Cathy’s book here.

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