The annual award was created to recognize the top general manager in the company who best embodies the qualities that characterize what the chain calls the "Whataburger Difference," including unparalleled service to customers, operational excellence, leadership among Whataburger team members, and dedication to the community. It also rewards honesty, integrity, and a positive attitude.
Mr. Ghacemi started with the company in Phoenix in 1992 and was transferred to Austin in 1996. He was selected to open store #709 in Austin in 1999 and has served as GM there since. His accomplishments include increasing annual sales by 15 percent as well as making unit 709 the first Whataburger in Austin to attain the status of a certified training location.
He was nominated by his area manager who wrote this about him: "Ahmad was asked what has made him so successful at Whataburger. He replied that he has a passion for the business and takes great pride in being the best. He works every Saturday and Sunday because he knows this is when his unit has the highest sales and he wants to ensure that every customer is satisfied."
"We hold this award in the highest regard because it signifies our commitment to doing what's right at every level,” said Mr. Dobson, Whataburger’s chairman and CEO. "Ahmad is a shining example of what it means to deliver the Whataburger difference every day; he helps make us who we are."
In addition to the honor, the single father of three is now driving his prize: a new silver 2002 Ford Mustang.
"I am truly honored to have won the award and am flattered by the company's generosity," said Mr. Ghacemi. "It proves what I've known all along— Whataburger takes care of its people. I want to pass that along to my customers."
Nominations were received from area managers from among the company's more than three hundred company-owned stores, and a review process narrowed the finalists to three top regional picks. Mr. Dobson, whose father Harmon Dobson founded Whataburger in 1950, personally selected Mr. Ghacemi from among those three.
Family-owned Whataburger has more than 560 locations in eight states, with annual sales topping $600 million.