Roland Parrish is the president, CEO and owner of Parrish McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd. Parrish is also the former chairman and CEO of the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association, a 42-year-old organization with $2.7 billion in sales and 1,300 restaurants. However, it didn’t take long to discover that Parrish is a force of nature, whose level of success is not determined by the size of his business holdings, but by the size of his heart. Parrish took the time to discuss the keys to his success and the current state of Black business.
Parrish came from humble beginnings in Hammond, Indiana, where his talent in track and field earned him a scholarship to Purdue University. Well into a career with the Exxon Corporation, Parrish applied to the McDonald’s management program but was initially denied. However, Parrish was eventually approved and purchased his first McDonald’s in the Pleasant Grove area in 1989 with $180K he saved by working at Exxon.
“My goal was to only own five restaurants, but after I read a book by Reginald Lewis called Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? I decided I had higher mountains to climb. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to grow restaurants,” Parrish said.
Parrish’s company has grown to as many as 27 restaurants at one time, grossing $63 million last year. Parrish believes the true key to his success lies in his employees and stated that he has succeeded by adopting the philosophy, “Find the people, train them, give them an opportunity and don’t bridle them, but empower them, and then reward them. … My employees feel more like family. My job is to take care of them,” he said.
When asked about the state of Black business in the country, Parrish commented, “I was somewhat shocked to find a majority of business owners of color are not actually from the United States, but from other areas such as Jamaica, the Caribbean, and Africa.”
Source: Rolling Out