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Ray Kroc Net Worth | Businessman And McDonald’s Franchiser Career

ray kroc net worth
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Ray Kroc Net Worth: $600 Million (at Time Of Death)
Born: 5th October 1902 (Died 14th January 1984 At 81 Years Old)
Profession:American Businessman
Children: 1
Nationality: American

According to celebritynetworth.com, the businessman responsible for franchising McDonald’s, Ray Kroc had an estimated net worth of $600 million when he died in 1984. In today’s money, this equates to $1.4 billion.

Kroc’s Early Years

Raymond Albert Kroc was born on 5th October 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois, close to Chicago. His parents were Czech-Americans. Rose Mary (née Hrach) was his mother and Alois “Louis” Kroc, his father.

Ray’s father immigrated to America where he made a fortune until the stock market crashed in 1929. He then began working as a superintendent.

young ray kroc sitting on wall
A Young Ray Kroc. Credit:Grinding It Out

Ray spent much of his early life in Oak Park.

During World War I, he lied about his age so that he could become an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. He was fifteen at the time.

It was here that he worked alongside Walt Disney. Shortly after enlisting, the war ended.

During the times of the Great Depression, Kroc had a range of jobs. These included being a paper cup seller, being a Florida real estate agent, and even playing in bands.

Meeting The McDonald Brothers

After the Second World War, Kroc began working as a salesperson selling milkshake mixers for Prince Castle – a company that made food service equipment.

old style mcdonalds milkshake mixer
An Early McDonalds Milkshake Mixer Sold By Kroc. Credit:BBC

After selling eight multi-mixers to Richard (Dick) and Maurice McDonald, Kroc went to pay them a visit at their restaurant in San Bernardino in California. This was in 1954.

The salesman was astounded at what he witnessed.

The McDonald brothers were managing a slick operation where customers would be served their orders in seconds rather than minutes. Not only was the service fast but the burgers tasted great thanks to the brothers’ meticulous approach to quality control.

The whole experience made a mark on Kroc who saw lots of potential in the business.

In the movie The Founder, Michael Keaton plays Kroc, and it is a great scene where he first experiences the McDonalds brothers restaurant.

Michael Keaton plays Kroc as he first experiences a McDonalds restaurant. Credit: YouTube

The kitchen appliance salesman saw so much potential with the McDonald brothers’ innovative restaurant that he immediately made a deal with them to expand, which Kroc would himself oversee.

The brothers were skeptical of Kroc’s idea as they had tried and failed to expand, as the pair were unhappy at the lack of high standards in their new outlet.

The deal kept Kroc limited with what he could do with new franchises as the brothers were always mindful about the quality of service and reputation of the company.

Nevertheless, a year later, Kroc opened the first franchise of McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois. This ended up being demolished in 1985 but the McDonald’s Corporation recognized its nostalgic and historic value and acquired the land, choosing to make it modern but almost like the original.

They also built a gift shop and museum next door.

Walt Disney

When he had finalised agreements on the franchise with the McDonalds, Kroc wrote to Walt Disney, asking to build a franchise in the Disney Development.

walt disney early photo
Walt Disney And Ray Kroc Met During The 1st World War. Credit:Mercurynews.com

Apparently, Walt Disney agreed, but he wanted the fries to increase in price from $0.10 to $0.15. Kroc refused this request and so Disneyland opened without a McDonald’s.

Building the McDonalds Empire

Kroc wanted all the stores to be consistent and uniform. He insisted on certain stipulations for the stores. The locations of the restaurants at this time had to be in suburban areas and not in urban or downtown areas.

What’s more, policies insisted the restaurants were properly sanitized at all times with staff being clean, well-groomed, and kind to children.

mcdonalds restaurant during the 1950s
Mcdonald’s Restaurant In The 1950s. Credit:Fanpop.com

In terms of the food, the restaurants were forced to stick to the exact specifications, and nothing was wasted.

There were no pinball games or cigarette machines allowed in the restaurants either.

Everything was planned to the finest detail in order to give customers the best possible experience and one that wouldn’t differ from franchise to franchise.

Emerging Copy-Cat Competitors

Kroc made the McDonald’s chain one of the most successful in North America during the 1960s.

As any business will know, with success come a lot of copycat chains looking to emulate your success by copying your model. Companies like Burger King and KFC saw what was working for McDonalds and started implementing their ideas into their own restaurants.

burger king sign
Burger King Copied The McDonald Franchise Model With Success. Credit:Pablo de la Fuente

With the rapid expansion of the business, Kroc wanted to make changes to the products and expand even more. The changes would result in lower costs for the company but the quality of their products would also suffer.

The rate of expansion and the lower quality products made the McDonalds brothers extremely nervous and insisted that Kroc keep to their original blueprint.

Buying Out The McDonald Brothers

In 1961, Kroc eventually bought the company for the sum of $2.7 million. This was calculated so that each of the McDonald’s brothers received $1 million once tax was paid.

Kroc became frustrated with the McDonalds brothers after closing the sale because they refused to transfer the rights and real estate of the original location in San Bernardino.

The brothers kept this original restaurant and renamed it The Big M, having lost rights to the name. This closed after six years.

ray kroc started franchising the company aggressively
Kroc Outside A New McDonalds Franchise. Credit: The Guardian

Kroc continued to work on the McDonald’s franchises and developed systems and rules to unify every store in the country.

By this time, there were a staggering 7,500 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States and thirty-one other countries.

Fast food restaurants had swept the nation and McDonalds (and Ray Kroc) were the pioneers.

Retirement

In 1973, Kroc retired and looked for new challenges instead.

His favourite sport was baseball and, after learning that the San Diego Padres team was up for sale, he bought the team for $12 million.

ray kroc with baseball mascot
Kroc With The San Diego Padres Mascot. Credit:Nbcsports.com

In the first year of Kroc’s ownership, the San Diego Padres lost more than one hundred games, yet they had success at the box office with over one million attendees.

After Kroc died, the Padres wore a patch with his initials on.

Political Leanings

Kroc was a lifelong Republican. He opposed government welfare staunchly and passionately believed in self-reliance. He opposed the New Deal reforms proposed by President Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Kroc also donated the sum of $255,000 to the re-election campaign for Richard Nixon in 1972.

Some people, including Senator Harrison Williams, accused Kroc of donating money to influence Nixon and veto the minimum wage bill.

Poor Health and Death

Kroc had a stroke in 1980 after which, he went into an alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Four years after his stroke, Kroc died of heart failure. He was eighty-one.

Kroc was buried in El Camino Memorial Park, Sorrento Valley in San Diego.

Personal Life and Marriages

Kroc married his first wife Ethel Fleming at the age of twenty. He remained married to Ethel for 37 years. They met in 1919 when Ray was just seventeen. After they married, they moved to Chicago. They had a daughter called Marilyn in 1924.

After this marriage ended, he was divorced and met his second wife Jane Dobbins Green, who he married two years later. This marriage also ended in divorce and only lasted five years.

Ray Kroc married for the third time in 1969. His third wife, Joan – also known as Joni, was a philanthropist. She was born in 1928 and was, therefore, 26 years younger than Ray. Joan’s first husband was a McDonald’s franchisee who went on to own three South Dakota stores.

She met Ray Kroc in Minnesota in 1957 while she was playing organ at St. Paul’s Criterion Restaurant. At the time, they were both married.

ray kroc with with third wife joan
Ray Kroc And His 3rd Wife Joan. Credit: Pinterest

They met for the second time in 1969 at a McDonald’s conference and within six months both had divorced and got married themselves. Joan inherited Kroc’s fortune when he died in 1984.

Charity

Despite not believing in welfare programs, Kroc still supported causes.

In 1967, Kroc set up The Kroc Foundation. This was designed to help combat medical problems like multiple sclerosis, alcoholism, and diabetes. Ray’s brother Robert became the foundation’s president in 1969.

Eventually, this charity established the Ronald McDonald House, which is still an established charity aiming to improve sick children’s lives across the world.

After Ray died, his wife Joan increased charitable donations significantly. Her donations were to lots of interesting causes like nuclear non-proliferation and peace.

When Joan Kroc died in 2003, here estate was worth $2.7 billion. This was distributed to lots of charities and non-profit organisations. The biggest amount ($1.5 billion) was donated to The Salvation Army to allow them to build twenty-six Kroc Centers.

Awards and Accolades

In 1972, Ray received the Horatio Alger Award for his honesty and dedication. This was awarded by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

A year later, he received the American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate award.

The McDonald’s Corporation now has an annual award ceremony called the Global Ray Kroc Awards.

Each year, these awards celebrate McDonald’s employees who lead by example with their behaviours and actions and are classed as within the top 1% of McDonald’s restaurant managers in the world.

ray kroc award winner
Victoria Robinson Won The Ray Kroc Award In 2019. Credit:News-reporter.com

Controversies

When Ray Kroc bought out the McDonald’s brothers, they snuck in a clause that allowed them to keep their original restaurant, which infuriated Kroc. He made them change the name as he then owned the brand.

When the brothers wouldn’t give up this restaurant, Kroc refused to pay their royalties, which were meant to be 0.5% each year.

As a result, he opened a McDonald’s just a block away and the McDonald’s brothers eventually ceased trading.

mcdonald brothers who had a bad relationship with ray kroc
Richard And Maurice McDonald Had A Bad Relationship With Kroc. Credit:Newstatesman.com

After Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, he attempted to rewrite the company’s history.

He started to preach that he founded it all and that the first restaurant had been in Des Plaines in Illinois when actually this was the chain’s ninth restaurant.

Other Work

Ray Kroc also co-wrote a successful self-help book in 1977.

The book, named Grinding it Out aimed to inspire people to pursue their dreams by working hard.

Ray Kroc Net Worth Quotes

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

“Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” – Ray Kroc

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

“As long as you’re free you’re growing, as soon as you’re ripe you start to rot.” – Ray Kroc

I believe that if you think small, you stay small

Ray Kroc

“It’s easy to have principles when you’re rich. The important thing is to have principles when you’re poor.”

“I’ve never seen such stupid ball-playing in my life.” – Ray Kroc live on the tannoy at a San Diego Padres’ game.

Summary Ray Kroc Net Worth 2022

  • Ray Kroc Net Worth was $600 million at the time of his death (that would be $1.8 billion today)
  • He was born in 1902 in Illinois and has a Czech heritage.
  • He met the McDonald’s brothers as a milkshake maker salesperson and went on to collaborate with them.
  • Kroc is responsible for franchising the McDonald’s corporation and spreading it far and wide across the globe.
  • He eventually bought the McDonald’s brothers out, but it wasn’t amicable.
  • He also bought the San Diego Padres and co-wrote a book about his business tips.
  • Kroc was a republican that didn’t believe in social welfare. Despite this, he was charitable and created his own foundation.
  • Kroc was married three times and had one daughter to his first wife.
  • Kroc died in 1984, aged eighty-one.

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