“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else-our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.” — Quote from “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People” by S. Truett Cathy, published 2002. 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). Over 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, Ga.; 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.
Currently, there are more than 1,300 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 37 states and Washington, D.C. Remarkably, Cathy has led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 39 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 the Rome, Ga., institution. In addition, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, the Chick-fil-A chain has given more than $22 million in $1,000 scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973. This year the company will award more than $1.3 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 that are operated by Cathy and the WinShape Foundation. These homes, accommodating up to 12 children with two full-time foster parents, provide long-term care for foster children with a positive family environment.
Another core component distinguishing WinShape programs is WinShape® Camps. It was founded in 1985 as a series of two-week summer camps at Berry College to help boys and girls build self-esteem through physical and spiritual activities. Nearly 1,800 campers from throughout the country attend WinShape Camps sessions annually.
In 2003, Truett helped his son and daughter-in-law, Bubba and Cindy, celebrate the opening of WinShape RetreatSM, 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 the girls attending WinShape Camps.
Cathy is a devoutly religious man who built his life and business based on hard work, humanity and biblical principles. Based on these principles, all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants operate with a “Closed-on-Sunday” policy, – without exception. When not managing his company, Cathy donates his time to community efforts and teaches a Sunday school class to 13-year-old boys, as he has done for nearly 50 years.
Cathy has received countless awards over the years, including: Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award (2007); Greater Dallas FCA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poultry & Food Distributors Association (2005); Norman Vincent & Ruth Stafford Peale Humanitarian Award (2003); Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award from Injoy/John Maxwell (2003); Georgia Sports Hall of Fame – Chairman’s Award (2003); the Ernst & Young- Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); and Horatio Alger Award – Horatio Alger Association, Washington, D.C. (1989) He also is the author of Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People (Looking Glass Books, 2002); It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail (Thomas Nelson Publishing, 1989); and It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men (Looking Glass Books, 2004); and he is co-author of The Generosity Factor with Ken Blanchard (Zondervan Publishing, 2002).
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 in learning the business from the ground up. Dan became president of Chick-fil-A in June 2001 and Bubba is senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, Inc., and president of the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House division. His daughter, Trudy and her husband, John, are missionaries and directors of Camp Winshape for Girls. In 2006, Cathy welcomed the third generation of Cathy family members to the business. Two of his grandsons, Andrew Cathy and Mark Cathy, opened new restaurants in St. Petersburg, Fla., and San Marcos, Calif., respectively. Cathy and his wife Jeannette have 12 grandchildren and more than 150 “foster grandchildren.”