The 14 franchise owners that make up Chicago’s Black McDonald’s Operators Association are an example of diversity at McDonald’s Corp.

The 14 franchise owners that make up Chicago’s Black McDonald’s Operators Association are an example of diversity at McDonald’s Corp.

Among them, BMOA members own 39 Chicago-area McDonald’s restaurants which span from O’Hare airport to Whiting, Ind.

Nationally, 1,300 McDonald’s restaurants are Black-owned.

BMOAhas long stood out as an example of how to diversify a company, said William Whitman, vice president of communications for McDonald’s Corp. who is among the more than 20 minority executives working for the fast food chain headquartered in west suburban Oak Brook.

“McDonald’s realized years ago that the key to success is diversity,” Whitman told the Defender. “It is a good place to work especially for minorities because there are always opportunities opening up.”

While contributing to the success of McDonald’s bottom line as a corporate empire, Ron Childs, a spokesman for BMOA, said the organization is committed to exhibiting leadership, supporting education and developing partnerships within the African American communities that they serve.

Among the charities supported by BMOA is the Annual Chicago Football Classic. This year BMOA sponsored the Classic’s college fair.

Another charitable event is the Food for the Body and Spirit event. Each year BMOA provides Thanksgiving dinners to various shelters.

Helping the needy is nothing new to Ron Lofton, a BMOA member, who owns five restaurants on the West Side.

He bought his first restaurant in 1993 and said it was one of the smartest things he could have done.

“I knew it then and I know it now that becoming a McDonald’s franchise owner was a smart move, personally and professionally,” he said. “The West Side has been good to me. People really underestimate the spending power of Blacks. And the value of my stores have tripled since I first purchased them.”

The restaurant at 3200 W. Roosevelt Road, which Lofton said is his highest grossing one, is worth $1.8 million, according to Lofton, who paid $367,000 to purchase it over 10 years ago.

He contributes part of his success to the strong support franchise owners receive from the corporate office.

“Management at McDonald’s makes you feel like you are part of the family. That’s probably why 18 percent of their total sales come from Black franchises,” Lofton explained. “I hope to purchase more stores if the opportunity is there.”

Lofton said he would like to hand over his McDonald’s empire to his son once he retires. His son works with him overseeing all of the marketing initiatives.

Lofton’s other four restaurants are located at 23 N. Western Ave., 5015 W. Madison St., 4048 W. Madison St., and 5153 W. Chicago Ave.

Of the BMOA members, Derrick Taylor and his wife, Cheryl, own the most restaurants in Chicagoland with six.

The former professional football player for the Denver Broncos who turned entrepreneur has all his restaurants on the South Side.

After working 14 years for the city of Chicago as an engineer and assistant aviation commissioner at O’Hare airport, Taylor purchased his first restaurant in 2000 at the Chicago Skyway, 8871 S. Kingston, which today is his most profitable restaurant.

Initially, Taylor became a franchise owner so his wife could retire from her hospital job, which she eventually did. No she coowns the restaurants with him.

“I wanted her to be able take it easy and not work so hard,” Taylor said. “She is my co-pilot. I cannot fly without her. She still works hard but at least now it is for us and not someone else.”

In 2006 the Taylors bought two restaurants: one at 29 E. 87th St. and another at 7900 S. King Drive, which produces the most volume.

I have always been community oriented and being a franchise owner of McDonald’s has made me more community oriented,” Taylor explained. “I work with a lot of teenagers and my customers come from all walks of life. Helping people is something I enjoy.”

Sercurity is a hot button for Taylor, who also owns restaurants at 1656 W. 95th St., 9730 S. Western Ave., and 1443 E. 87th St.

“Security is a big issue because teenagers sometimes get a little wild and when this occurs security is often needed,” he told the Defender.

Whitman added that McDonald’s minority base also includes Cuban-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women and Latinos. “McDonald’s is comprised of a good core of ethnic groups,” he said.

Examples of minorities in top management positions include its general legal counsel, who is Latino, and Don Thompson who, in 2007, became the internationally known chain’s first Black president to oversee its U.S. operations.

“Our leadership team is made up of good managers who are well diverse, too,” Whitman explained. “I know for a fact that other companies are looking to duplicate our diversity model and that’s fine because we want to set the standard for diversity.”

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