How Ray Kroc built McDonald’s into a Global Brand

Ray Kroc-CEO of McDonald's

Ray Kroc, Success story of CEO of McDonald’s

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a successful CEO? Well, look no further than Ray Kroc, the iconic CEO of McDonald’s and famous entrepreneur in the world

Ray Kroc (Raymond Albert Kroc) was an ambitious entrepreneur who joined forces with two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, to create one of the most successful businesses in history.

Ray Kroc’s success story is one of inspiration, determination and hard work. He believed that anything was possible and he made it happen.

In this story, we will explore Ray Kroc’s rags-to-riches success story, from his humble beginnings as a milkshake machine salesman to the CEO of one of the world’s largest fast food franchises.

Who is Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois, United States. His father worked as a paper salesman and his mother was a music teacher. Kroc didn’t graduate from high school, but he did receive an honorary degree from Northwestern University in 1973.

Kroc began his career as a milkshake mixer salesman. He eventually started his own company, which distributed milk shake machines to restaurants.

In 1954, he met the McDonald brothers, who owned a hamburger restaurant in San Bernardino, California.

Kroc was impressed with their business model and convinced them to let him open more McDonald’s restaurants.

Kroc became the CEO of McDonald’s in 1961. Under his leadership, the company grew rapidly. By 1968, there were more than 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants around the world. Kroc retired in 1974, but he remained on the board of directors until his death in 1984.

Today, McDonald’s is one of the most successful companies in the world. It has more than 36,000 locations in over 100 countries. More than 70 million people eat at McDonald’s every day.

Early life and work of Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois. His father, Louis Kroc, was a Czech immigrant and his mother, Rose Hrubecky, was of German descent.

Ray’s father worked as a butcher and ran a small grocery store. His parents had high expectations for their son and instilled strong work ethic values in him from an early age.

After completing high school, Ray took up various odd jobs before finding his calling in sales. He started working as a salesman for the Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation in 1922.

It was during his time with Lily-Tulip that he met his future wife, Ethel Fleming. The couple married in 1924 and had two children together – Richard Kroc and Marilyn Kroc Winker.

In 1954, at the age of 52, Ray Kroc stumbled upon a small hamburger restaurant run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California.

He was impressed by their efficient operation and saw the potential for this new type of restaurant to be replicated across the country.

In 1955, he struck a deal with the brothers to become the exclusive distributor of their special milkshake maker machine.

With the help of his wife Ethel, Ray Kroc invested his life savings into opening his first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955.

The restaurant was an instant success and it wasn’t long before franchising opportunities began to roll in from all over the

Opening McDonald

Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902, in Oak Park, Illinois. His father was a grocer and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Kroc’s first job was as a paperboy.

He then worked as a musician and salesman before joining the Marines in 1918. After the Marines, Kroc became a traveling salesman for the Luxor Company. In 1954, he happened to meet the McDonald brothers while selling them milkshake machines.

Kroc was impressed with the brothers’ restaurant and saw its potential. He convinced them to let him open franchised McDonald’s restaurants across the country.


In 1955, Kroc opened his first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois. The rest is history! McDonald’s quickly became a global phenomenon and today there are over 36,000 McDonald’s restaurants in over 100 countries around the world.

Kroc credited much of his success to hard work and determination. “I was determined to make it work,” he said of his early days in the restaurant business. “I had faith in myself … I just knew that this [restaurant] could be something big.”

Kroc died in 1984 at the age of 82, but his legacy lives on through the billions of Happy Meals served each year at McDonald’s restaurants around the world.

How Kroc built McDonald’s into a global brand

Kroc started as a salesman for milkshake machines and saw potential in McDonald’s as a business opportunity.

He bought the company from the brothers who founded it in 1954, and quickly began franchising the restaurant across the United States.

Under Kroc’s leadership, McDonald’s became one of the most recognizable brands in the world, with over 36,000 locations in more than 100 countries.

Kroc was a visionary leader who understood the power of branding and advertising. He invested heavily in both, making sure that McDonald’s was always at the forefront of popular culture.

He also ensured that franchisees adhered to strict standards of quality and service, which helped to build consumer trust in the brand.

Kroc was relentless in his pursuit of growth for McDonald’s. He was always looking for new ways to expand the business, whether it was through introducing new menu items or opening restaurants in new markets. His drive and determination helped to make McDonald’s into the global powerhouse it is today.

Major Innovations

Ray Kroc’s biggest innovation was his franchising model. By allowing other businesses to operate under the McDonald’s name, he was able to rapidly expand the reach of the brand. This not only helped to grow the company, but also allowed him to build a global empire.

Kroc was also responsible for introducing new technologies to the fast food industry. He was an early adopter of milkshake machines and introduced the first drive-thru window in 1975.

These innovations helped to make McDonald’s more efficient and convenient, two key factors in its success.

Kroc’s philanthropic work

Kroc’s philanthropic work was wide-ranging. He and his wife Joan established the Ray & Joan Kroc Foundation in 1971.

The Foundation’s stated mission is “to continue the charitable, spiritual, educational, literary and scientific works of Mrs. Ray A. Kroc.”

The Foundation has donated millions of dollars to various causes over the years, including medical research, children’s charities, and disaster relief. In 1984, Kroc donated $50 million to create the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

This organization provides housing and support for families with sick children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.

Kroc was also a major contributor to the Salvation Army, donating more than $1 million to the organization over his lifetime.

In recognition of his generosity, the Salvation Army named him an honorary member of its Advisory Board in 1978.

Lessons from the success story of Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was the CEO of McDonald’s for many years, and he is considered one of the most successful businessmen of all time.

He built McDonald’s into a global empire, and his story is an inspiration to many people. There are many lessons that can be learned from Ray Kroc’s success story.

First, it is important to have a clear vision for your business. Kroc knew exactly what he wanted to achieve with McDonald’s, and he was able to articulate this vision to his team.

This allowed everyone to work towards the same goal and helped make McDonald’s into the successful company it is today.

Second, it is essential to put the customer first. Kroc always put the needs of his customers above everything else, and this led to him creating a very customer-focused company.

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He understood that happy customers would keep coming back, and this helped McDonald’s become one of the most popular fast food chains in the world.

Third, it is important to always be learning and growing. Kroc was always looking for ways to improve McDonald’s, and he was constantly innovating.

This kept the company fresh and relevant, and it helped them maintain their position as a leader in the fast food industry.

Fourth, it is necessary to surround yourself with good people. Kroc surrounded himself with talented individuals who shared his vision for McDonald’s. This helped him create a strong team that could take the company to new heights.

Finally, it is important to always have faith in yourself. Kroc was a man of tremendous self-belief, and this allowed him to take risks and push the boundaries. He was not afraid of failure, and this attitude enabled him to achieve great success.

These are some of the key lessons that can be learned from Ray Kroc’s success story. By following these principles, entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success in their own businesses.

Quick Facts

Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the son of Czech immigrants. His father worked as a machinist and his mother was a homemaker.

Kroc dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and began working as a salesman for paper cups and milkshake machines.

In 1955, he met Dick and Mac McDonald, who owned a chain of fast food restaurants in California. Kroc was impressed with their business model and convinced them to let him open a franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened its doors on April 15, 1955.

Kroc continued to open new franchises across the United States and by 1961, there were 100 McDonald’s restaurants in operation.

In 1962, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million and became the sole owner of the company.

Under Kroc’s leadership, McDonald’s became one of the most successful fast food chains in the world with over 36,000 locations in more than 100 countries as of 2016.

Kroc was married three times and had four children. His first wife died of an aneurysm in 1961. His second marriage ended in divorce after 20 years.

In 1969, he married Jane Dobbins Green (known as Joan Borman), who was 22 years his junior. They remained married until his death in 1984. Kroc died of congestive heart failure on January 14, 1984 at the age of 81.

Kroc’s legacy continues to this day as McDonald’s remains one of the most recognizable and successful brands in the world.

The company has even created a Ray Kroc award to recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the McDonald’s system.

In 2009, Kroc was inducted into the California Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in creating the global McDonald’s empire.


Ray Kroc was an American entrepreneur who was best known as the CEO of McDonald’s. His powerful leadership and business savvy transformed McDonald’s from a small, family-run burger stand into a global fast-food empire.

Despite his lack of formal education, Kroc used his enthusiasm and innovative ideas to turn McDonald’s into one of the most successful businesses in history.

Ray Kroc is a remarkable success story that serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere; he proves that it is possible to achieve great things with hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck.

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