Wendy’s is not a company that gets a whole lot of attention simply because it has played fourth fiddle to Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, Burger King, and the star of the show, McDonald’s. With McDonalds growing profits and dividends like clockwork around the globe every year, and being the one source of truly lucrative long-term wealth creation within the fast food industry, it can be easy to overlook some of the contributions to human understanding brought about by some of the secondary players.
Today, I want to shine a quick spotlight on a strategy employed by Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. From the beginning, Thomas had to work cut out for him—when he opened his first Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio back in 1969, there were already over a thousand McDonald’s franchises dotting the American landscape. But Dave Thomas was no stranger to uphill battles—he never knew his parents, his adoptive mother died at the age of five, and Dave had trouble keeping up with his adoptive father (who had worked his way through four different wives by the time Dave dropped out during his sophomore year of high school).