Chick-fil-A president: Have a positive influence

Jul 29 2011 - 9:20am


Dan Cathy
Dan Cathy

LAYTON -- Dan Cathy would rather spend time sleeping in a tent in a Chick-fil-A parking lot than leading the restaurant chain from his corporate office in Atlanta.

Cathy, the president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, spoke at the Davis Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday.

"If you don't absolutely love what you're doing, then update your resume and go do something that you'll love," Cathy told the audience. "My father told me that if you fall in love with your work, you'll never work a day in your life."

Cathy arrived in Utah on Monday evening and by the time he left Layton on Thursday to return to Atlanta he had spoken at 15 different events.

He also visited local Chick-fil-A stores, including the stand-alone restaurant under construction at 651 W. Antelope Road.

"I like being in our restaurants," Cathy said. "I think a lot better about the business when I sit in our dining rooms and am with our operators, because that's where the action is."

Cathy may be back soon. The company president enjoys spending the night with customers who camp out before a new restaurant opens. The first 100 guests on opening day receive one Chick-fil-A Meal per week for a year. They also get to do the Electric Slide with Cathy during the night and hear him play "Reveille" on his trumpet first thing in the morning.

Michael Bouwhuis, Layton City Council member and president of

Davis Applied Technology College, said he left with two great impressions.

The first was Cathy's comparison of a Slinky to leaders and followers.

"Leaders go first," Cathy said, "and followers become leaders."

Cathy demonstrated that concept with a Slinky as the back of the children's toy quickly becomes the front as it moves down steps.

Bouwhuis was also impressed with Chick-fil-A's mission statement: "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

Cathy's father, S. Truett Cathy, founded the restaurant and since its existence Chick-fil-A does not open on Sunday. Cathy's father grew up in a boarding house and had to wash dishes on Sunday.

"He hated it," Cathy said. "So he made a commitment as a child that if he was ever in the restaurant business that he would not make people wash dishes on Sundays."

Prior to his presentation, Cathy said that he really wanted to encourage those in attendance to see their businesses as a platform not to just make money, but to have a positive influence in the life of their customers.

"That's an important message people need to hear, that it's not just about money," Cathy said. "Our guests get to experience teenagers who treat them with honor, dignity and respect and make them feel good about their day."

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