A Message of Success

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy used his wit, wisdom and life story to encourage those attending the 1st anniversary banquet of RENEWANATION to follow the plan and success God has for them.

“God has a better plan than you (have for yourself),” Cathy said. “We honor God by our success.”

Success is certainly at the heart of the 88-year-old Cathy’s life story. In just more than 40 years Chick-fil-A, Inc., has grown into the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States in sales, more than $2.9 billion annually. And Cathy’s model has been one of following Biblical principles for his business.

Cathy was born into poverty and found out quickly the profit of hard work. From selling Cokes and magazines to running his own paper route, he learned the importance of pleasing his customers. “I was a pretty good salesman,” he said of his early days of entrepreneurship.

After a stint in the military, he and his brother opened an Atlanta diner known as the Dwarf Grill in 1946. The decision was made from the start that the restaurant would not be open on Sunday. That was a principle Cathy carried with him when he opened Chick-fil-A in 1967. And he hasn’t wavered from that.

“It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made,” Cathy told the close to 800 who attended the RENEWANATION banquet at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in Roanoke, Va. While restaurants count on making 20 percent of their sales on Sunday, Cathy said closing on Sunday honors the Lord and allows employees the day off to worship if they choose. That forward thinking has helped the company keep its career people in place, with little turnover (about 3 percent) among those employees. “That makes my job very, very easy,” he added.

He said serving people is a high calling. “There’s a price you have to pay,” Cathy added about pursuing success. He said that youth need to realize that they need to make good decisions in order to have good results.

And over the years, Cathy has helped numerous youth pursue their own dreams of success. His company provides millions each year to support foster homes and he has taught a Sunday School class for 13-year-old boys for five decades. His WinShape Centre Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to “shape winners” by helping young people succeed in life by providing scholarships and other youth-support programs.

“You know how you can tell if somebody needs encouragement?” Cathy asked the audience: “If they’re breathing.”

Cathy also encouraged parents to take hold of their responsibility. “Men,” he said, “you are the CEO of the greatest institution in the world — the home.”

He encouraged those in attendance to support the work of RENEWANATION, noting that the public school system has changed since he was in school. In those days, he said youth learned a Bible verse of the week. One of the principles he learned back then: “It’s better to give than to receive.”

“We live in a world of greed,” Cathy said, adding that every moment of the day provides an opportunity to give of our time, love and resources to someone else. “What a joy it is when you give and you don’t receive anything in return.”

By Tom Wilmoth