Monday, September 22, 2014

It Started in the Great Depression

By Marilyn Turk



Atlanta, 1929

Samuel pulled his wooden wagon behind him, hurrying to fetch all the things Mother needed back home at the boarding house.  His mother had too much to do already, taking care of six children and the boarders. Soon as he loaded up the groceries at the corner store, he’d rush home to help her get dinner ready. There’d be beans to snap, corn to shuck, then dishes to wash afterwards.

While he was at the store, he noticed he could buy six Coca-Colas for a quarter. His eight-year-old mind had an idea. What if he bought those six bottles and sold them each for a nickel? He’d make a nickel for himself! Sam bought the Cokes and added them to the other things in the wagon. Soon as he finished up with the dinner chores, he’d take the drinks around the neighborhood and try to sell them. His idea worked, and soon he was going back to the store again and again for more Cokes. 

When one of his customers suggested he ice the bottles down, he borrowed some chips of ice from his mother’s icebox, and sales picked up. Eventually, he set up a stand in his yard and sold even more drinks when he added Orange Crush and NuGrape. As the heat of summer ebbed, Sam turned to magazine sales until at the age of twelve, he was old enough to have his own newspaper route.


Times were tough in the Depression, but Sam learned how hard work paid off. The lessons he learned as a child would carry throughout his life as he persevered through hardships to become one of the world’s most successful businessmen.

You see, Sam was the first name of S. Truett Cathy, but because of a speech impediment he had as a child, the name Truett was easier for him to pronounce. Eventually, the impediment disappeared and so did his first name.


Truett Cathy died on September 8, 2014 at the age of 93, leaving a legacy in the business he founded in 1946, Chick Fil-A. He also left a legacy of sound work ethic, moral character and generosity exemplified in the thousands of lives he touched.

In addition to his work, Truett Cathy served his community by establishing scholarships, children's homes, and Christian summer camps. One of his mottoes was "You can't outgive God." Mr. Cathy said the more he gave to God, the more God gave him.

Mr. Cathy taught a Sunday school class for 13-year-old boys more than forty years, believing this age group to be critical in the development of young men. Another of his famous sayings was “It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men.”

A pioneer in the food business, Mr. Cathy is credited with inventing the chicken sandwich. He was also one of the first restaurants to open a fast-food concept in a shopping mall. However, when his policy to stay closed on Sundays ran into opposition from shopping malls wanting him to stay open seven days a week, he decided to build more free-standing restaurant. 


Many people told him he’d lose revenue from his decision, but he stayed firm to his belief that Sundays should be days of worship for himself and his employees. And loss of revenue? The Chick Fil-A Corporation posted over six billion dollars in sales in its 1800 locations in 2013.

Space doesn’t permit all the stories about Truett Cathy and how he impacted others – from giving them jobs to helping them out financially, not to mention lessons he taught about character. A Bible verse he lived and taught was “A good name is more desirable than great riches,” from Proverbs 22:1.

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Cathy when I worked in the restaurant business and my sons had the blessing of going to his Camp Winshape for boys (so named for “shaping winners”) at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He was one of my heroes.

The world lost a good man when Mr. Cathy died, but his legacy will live on in the lives of his children (who are at the helm of the company now), his descendants, and in the lives of others he touched for years to come. 
S. Truett Cathy 1921-2014



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23 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks Marilyn for this very touching post about an obviously great man. I've heard a few stories of his generosity and business ethics, but never one like this! He was such a blessing to so many!
    kam110476 at gmail dot com

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    1. Glad you liked the post, Kam. He was an amazing man.

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  2. I love this post. I wish I knew where there was a Chick Fil A near me!
    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

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    1. Connie, thanks for reading the post. I hope you can find one!

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  3. Love this post. I hadn't heard all of the story behind Cathy's success, but now I understand more of what he stood for and why Christians support Chick-fil-a. We have several not far from us, our Texas Children's Hospital has one in their Food Court. (Spent a lot of time there with Robert Mikell during him many hospital stays) Our grandkids love getting gift cards from there in their Christmas stockings, and I love Chick-fil-a commercials.

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  4. Martha, I'm glad to know you support this great company!

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    1. My kids love Chick Fil A gift cards too!

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  5. Loved this post on Mr. Cathy. I didn't know all that about him. What a story! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Sally, glad you enjoyed the post. There's so much about him that I didn't have room to write!

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  6. That is a great story about Mr. Cathy. I hope his children have the same Christian principles he had, and stand for what is right.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. And yes, all three of his children and several of his grandchildren are involved in the company now carrying on his Christian principles.

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  7. What an incredible story - thanks so much for sharing. I wish there was a Chic-fil-A near me, but I look forward to trying it out when I find one! Thanks for the giveaway
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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    1. Betti, glad you appreciated Mr. Cathy's story. Hope you find a Chick Fil A. It's the best chicken out there, in my opinion.

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  8. So interesting and thanks for the post. I love ChickFil A truckredford(at)gmail(Dot)com

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  9. Wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing! I love Chick-fil-A! Their food and "cows" are awesome!
    psalm103and138"at"gmail"dot"com

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  10. Caryl, so glad you enjoyed the story. And yes, aren't the cows a clever advertising trademark?

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  11. What a great tribute! Thanks for sharing.
    may_dayzee (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

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  12. My husband and I thought of Mr. Cathy today as we ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. What a wonderful man and a wonderful tribute.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks for supporting Chick Fil-A and Mr. Cathy's values.

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  13. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing Mr.Cathy's exceptional legacy.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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