Born March 14, 1921, in Eatonton, Georgia, Cathy was four years old when his family moved to Atlanta, where he attended Boys High, now known as Grady High School. In 1946, Cathy relied on a keen business sense, a strong work ethic and a deep Christian faith to build a tiny diner in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Georgia. He developed it into Chick-fil-A, which today has the highest same-store sales and is the nation’s largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain based on annual system-wide sales. It was at the original restaurant that Cathy created the sandwich that became the company’s signature item.
Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist who taught Sunday school to 13-year-old boys for more than 50 years. As an extension of the founder’s faith and the clearest example of incorporating biblical principles into the workplace, all Chick-fil-A restaurants—without exception—operate with a “Closed-on-Sunday” policy. Rare within the food service industry, this policy allows employees a day for family, worship, fellowship or rest, and also underscores Cathy’s desire to put principles and people ahead of profits. Chick-fil-A will remain privately held and closed on Sundays.
I ate my first Chick-fil-A sandwich in a mall in Fort Worth Texas. I had never had anything like it! Having grown up in the deep south I felt I knew chicken. This was a good sandwich and I would return often for more! During my time at Southwestern Seminary I worked for a free-standing Chick-fil-A in Arlington, TX. I loved working for this company and having Sundays off was incredible. Over the years, Sunday was always a work day in the food service industry and I appreciated this man’s leadership to close his stores regardless of the penalties charged by mall owners! I have learned a few lessons from the ways and means of Truett Cathy.
Lesson #1 – Stand Up
Truett Cathy led his company to close on Sundays for worship and family time. Though the company was fined every Monday morning from mall owners, he still closed the doors on Sunday. Standing up for what you believe in is novel and necessary in today’s culture.
Lesson #2 – Speak Up
Truett Cathy spoke up about certain ethical and moral issues facing our country today. I am thankful for a voice that encourages me to speak up for what I believe. Let us not hide in the shadows whining about the direction of our country. May we speak up for the beliefs we have.
Lesson #3 – Show Up
WinShape is a foundation to help shape winners in each successive generation. I appreciate that Cathy had the future in mind as well as the present. We often talk a lot about social and moral justice. How often do we actually engage in making that a reality for those victimized?
Lesson #4 – Suit Up
We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to their best as well. Truett Cathy had his head in the game, no doubt. May we also keep our wits about us and lead by example. Are you giving your very best? Suit Up!
“You have to be very careful about what you say. More importantly, you have to be very careful about what you do. You never know how or when you influence people – especially children.” — Truett Cathy
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. — Proverbs 22:1