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As president of the 975-unit restaurant chain, Cathy will direct day-to- day operations of Chick-fil-A, which reached the $1 billion sales mark in December 2000. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy will maintain his role as chairman and CEO of the company.
Dan Cathy, 48, began his career at Chick-fil-A at age nine when he sang songs for customers, scraped gum off the bottoms of tables and chairs, and did radio commercials for the chain's first "Dwarf House'' restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Upon graduating from college, Dan served as the chain's director of operations, opening 50-plus Chick-fil-A restaurants. As the training, purchasing, and field operations staff grew, Dan increased his role, serving as senior director and later vice president of operations. In 1989, Cathy was named executive vice president.
"Dan is well-prepared for this position, having spent several years in a variety of different operations roles alongside Jimmy Collins, who has been mentoring him for this current position since Dan started,'' said the 80-year- old Truett Cathy.
Chick-fil-A has taken great strides to orchestrate a smooth executive transition, planning for this move even before Collins, who joined the restaurant company as its third employee, announced his retirement date to company staff and Operators nearly three years ago. The fact that the younger Cathy shares Collins' and his father's core business values is a positive indicator that the transition will be a smooth one.
"My father and Jimmy Collins have been up-front about their goals for the direction of this company from the beginning,'' said Dan Cathy, as he assumed the No. 2 spot in the company. "As president I will be committed to upholding these same operating principles and values. You'll see little change from the steady course we're on.''
Under the father-son top leadership combination, there is no consideration of changing Chick-fil-A's long-standing "closed-on-Sunday'' policy or entertaining taking the company public. In addition, the company will maintain its dedication to youth programs such as the WinShape Centre® Foundation, restaurant employee scholarships and Junior Achievement.
"Like my father has said, as a privately held company, we can continue our focus on having a positive impact on people, rather than being solely interested in the bottom line,'' added Dan.