Friday, July 14, 2017

The Founder (2016)

I remember seeing a plaque in a McDonald’s once with the name and likeness of Ray Kroc on it.  It even had some information, although I don’t recall the details.  I wondered why a guy named Kroc would call his business McDonald’s.  Where did someone else’s name fit into all of this?

There were actually two brothers named Richard and Maurice McDonald who opened a hamburger stand.  That stand soon became very popular.  It becomes so popular that they order six milk-shake machines from Kroc’s company.

This prompts Kroc to visit the location to see why one location would need six machines that each make several shakes at a time.  He realizes that the brothers have something.  It takes some doing, but he gets them to allow him to franchise the name and system that they have for making burgers.  After a troubled start, Kroc is able to open up new locations as quickly as he can sign the paperwork.

The McDonald’s brand expands rather quickly.  The problem is that Kroc isn’t making money as quickly.  That’s when he runs into someone that might be able to help him.  This stranger looks over Kroc’s book and realizes what Kroc is doing wrong.  This propels Kroc to the position he needs to buy the company and do things his way.  This is why Kroc is often portrayed as the founder of McDonald’s.  He didn’t originate the name, but he did found the company that bought the original business.

The movie is based on a true story.  Not many people are necessarily familiar with the story of McDonald’s.  As a movie based on the facts, I’m nut sure how many liberties the movie took with the details.  Since Ray Kroc isn’t presented in the best light, I would imagine that they stuck as closely to the facts as they could.  Kroc starts out as a somewhat sympathetic character.  He seems to be a guy that’s trying to support himself and a wife, but Ethel Kroc doesn’t get to see much of her husband.

A while back, I wrote a review of a documentary on David Klein.  I pointed out that after viewing the documentary, you may not look at Jelly Belly the same way.  I think that Founder may have a similar effect for McDonald’s.  I don’t know that it will sour anyone on the company, per se.  However, you come to realize how much of the business really was business.

Ray Kroc starts out as a seemingly nice guy who just wanted to sell equipment to drive-in owners.  You come to realize that he’s simply eyeing his next big deal.  He seems to view other people as secondary to himself.   In fact, his one underlying principle is that only persistence matters.  If you persist long enough, you can accomplish anything, and that’s what Ray Kroc does.  The tragedy is that the McDonald Brothers realize too late that they’ve sold their business to the devil.

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