How Winning the Wendy's High School Heisman Changed My Life

How Winning the Wendy's High School Heisman Changed My Life

I've recently been exploring the concept of the power within a single idea, decision or just one moment. This force can be positive or negative, and often so strong that life can change in that instant it takes for a thought to pass through your mind. Perhaps it comes with just getting older: this appreciation for the infinite possibility and change that exists in one finite moment. Coming off of such a once in a lifetime experience as competing in the Olympics, I've also wanted to take the time to reflect back on all those little moments that added up and brought me to where I am today.

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We’re in Great Company with Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

We’re in Great Company with Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

[...] Since 1990, we have offered adoption benefits to employees. And since 2007, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has published an annual ranking of the most adoption-friendly workplaces in the country. In the first year of the list, we actually ranked 21st.  I wasn’t with Wendy’s at the time, but I can only imagine how that news went over. It’s pretty clear that anything less than #1 was not going to cut it for future years at Wendy’s! So since 2008, we’ve proudly topped the list of Most Adoption-Friendly Workplaces based on the benefits we provide to employees who build their families through adoption. [...]

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What It Takes to Be a Wendy’s Supply Partner

What It Takes to Be a Wendy’s Supply Partner

At Wendy’s and QSCC, we talk a lot about dedication to quality and doing the right thing. And that goes beyond the walls of One Dave Thomas Boulevard in Dublin, Ohio and into every corner of our business: from the team members in Wendy’s restaurants to the interactions within our communities and ultimately it extends to our supply chain. For us, if you’re going to talk about a dedication to quality, it has to start in the field where the ingredients are grown and distributed throughout the whole of the business.

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Why I Love the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program

Why I Love the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program

[...] Wendy’s has been sustaining the Wendy's High School Heisman program for a long time, but like the students we recognize, our team is committed to continuous improvement.  Each year in our off-season we make enhancements to the Wendy’s Heisman program, but this year, we made two huge strides. First, it’s now officially a college scholarship program. [...]  

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Celebrating the Accomplishments of Wendy’s Top General Managers

Celebrating the Accomplishments of Wendy’s Top General Managers

People who work for large organizations may tell you that the “corporate office” is where key business decisions are made and the really big stuff happens. Well, at Wendy’s, we have a different belief; we believe the most important actions take place every day in our restaurants [...] Because it’s there where our teams serve and strive to delight millions of customers each day. And the General Managers (GMs) play an absolutely critical role. They are the quarterback of restaurant operations, calling the signals for their team. They set the tone for operational excellence, encourage and develop others, and create the type of overall environment that helps deliver ‘A Cut Above’ customer experience.

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Frosty 5K – Growing Awareness for Foster Care Adoption One Runner at a Time

Frosty 5K – Growing Awareness for Foster Care Adoption One Runner at a Time

It was 5:30 AM on Sunday, July 31, 2016.  Volunteers were arriving at Huntington Park, a minor-league baseball stadium in downtown Columbus, Ohio, to set up for the fourth annual Frosty 5k, benefiting the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.  Although the sun had yet to rise, we knew it was going to be a beautiful day. 

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How do we feel about Antibiotics? For people and animals….it’s complicated

How do we feel about Antibiotics?  For people and animals….it’s complicated

We have been reviewing our policies around animal welfare and antibiotic use in our supply chain. Last week, we made some changes designed to push our journey forward and published a new position on our website. As we've shared with you previously, we have an extensive animal welfare auditing program, and responsible antibiotic use has long been a part of that program.  So we’d like you to know how we’re thinking about this issue. 

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A Franchisee Hits the Road for Adoption

A Franchisee Hits the Road for Adoption

When it comes to our support for children in foster care, we’ve taken on the mission of finding families for these children wholeheartedly.  And the dedication to finding homes for these children is not just a Wendy’s Company-thing.  We’re extremely proud of our hundreds of franchisees who have adopted (pun incredibly intended) the cause and made their own mark. 

But there’s one franchisee, in particular, getting ready to embark a pretty significant journey.  To tell you about it, we’re welcoming the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption President & CEO Rita Soronen to The Square Deal.  In the following blog, Rita shares the distance and lengths Ed Anderson is going to put a spotlight on the importance of this cause.  

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Serving and Sourcing Fresh Food

Serving and Sourcing Fresh Food

At Wendy’s, quality and food safety go hand-in-hand as our first priority when it comes to serving customers in our restaurants.  Seems like an obvious priority for a restaurant company, right? Well, in our case, we have an added layer of complexity because we bring in FRESH ingredients to our restaurants – multiple times a week – to craft the items on our menu.  And we’ve been doing this ever since we first opened our doors in 1969. 

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Happy Birthday America and Dave!

Happy Birthday America and Dave!

With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, we here at The Square Deal wanted to take a beat and wish America a big ‘ol Happy Birthday! And coincidentally, we’ll celebrate Dave Thomas’ birthday this weekend too! Dave was born on July 2, 1932 and would have turned 84 on Saturday.

When thinking of what to write to honor both the 4th and Dave’s birthday, I reached out to my friend and former colleague, Denny Lynch, for some inspiration.  While Denny is currently enjoying retirement, he’s a self-proclaimed “Wendy’s-lifer” as he spent the majority of his career leading the Wendy’s® communications department and serving as Dave’s right-hand man.

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Taking the Helm…the next step in my Wendy’s Journey

Taking the Helm…the next step in my Wendy’s Journey

May 26, 2016 was a big day.  It was a day when a long-time dream of mine came to fruition.  I was named CEO of The Wendy’s® Company.

As a growing professional, I had set various goals throughout my career and feel so proud to have achieved many of them as I charted my path forward. I enjoyed a successful career at the Ford Motor Company and then spent several terrific years at The Kellogg Company, where I had the opportunity to move beyond the finance function and become the President of the Kellogg’s Snacks business.  During my tenure, I was proud that this division became the biggest business unit in the Company with a focus and commitment to growth.  To deliver this, I worked hard to provide inspirational leadership and bold goals, while building a high performing team that was empowered and accountable to deliver results.  Even more important, was creating a culture where people felt valued and appreciated, while ensuring we had the pulse of our customers and execution teams to bring the brand vision to life. 

The experiences gained and lessons learned during these years continue to shape my leadership style and overall business approach every single day. [...]

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Celebrating a Random Act of Kindness

Celebrating a Random Act of Kindness

On Saturday afternoon I was enjoying a sun-filled day at the pool with some girlfriends when I looked at my phone to see an email from Liliana staring back at me with the subject line “Re: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.” When you get an email like that from the boss, you turn away from the conversation to read what’s going on. I paused hoping it was a good “WOW,” and it really was. The email was sent to several members of our team with a long thread about a special family from Florida who decided to put a little good back into the world following the heartbreaking events in Orlando. […] they bought funny “thinking of you” cards and wrote a thoughtful message in each. They simply wanted to brighten the day of 20 strangers...

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Eating, Living and Working in a Fast Food World

Eating, Living and Working in a Fast Food World

It’s safe to say I know my way around a QSR (quick-service restaurant) menu.  Being surrounded by really good, indulgent food for just about 10 years has been awesome [...] but this lifestyle has made me recognize and value the importance of a balanced diet coupled with a really good exercise program. Because when you take into consideration working lunches, new product tastings, drive-thru dinner stops and weekend take-out, I average dining at Wendy’s about five times a week, so I’ve needed to find ways to keep the cals-low and get in some greens and protein.  So what are my go-to items?  

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Honoring our Veterans

Honoring our Veterans

Most people know Dave Thomas as the guy who created Wendy’s® back in 1969.  His plan was simple…make hamburgers people love by doing things the right way.  He then spread the word about Wendy’s by appearing in what many people call the most successful (and loved) advertising campaign in history.  Along the way, he also created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® to help find permanent homes for children in foster care. But none of this would have happened had it not been for his service to his country and the lessons he learned during his deployment.  Yes, in addition to ALL aforementioned acclaim, Dave Thomas, you can also refer to him as Sergeant Thomas, is a veteran. 

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Hamburgers…with a Side of Technology

Hamburgers…with a Side of Technology

Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” This is true in business as in life. And if your business serves customers in a retail location every day, keeping your balance means listening – and acting – to bring your customers what they want, sometimes even before they ask for it. To bring customers what they want, self-service ordering technology appears to be the next frontier for Wendy’s and the restaurant industry, although we’re hardly the first to this party.

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Supporting the Work of Foster Care Adoption through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiters

Supporting the Work of Foster Care Adoption through Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiters

Many times I traveled with Dave to Washington D.C. where he could leverage his celebrity and many connections to bring a sense of urgency to the issue. He testified before Committees of the House and Senate, spoke before the National Press Club, visited the White House and even convinced the United States Post Office to issue an adoption stamp to raise awareness for the kids who were waiting in foster care. Walking the Halls of Congress with him was like walking around with a rock star – he was so famous we had to sneak him through back halls or risk missing all our appointments. It was an exciting time and we got a lot done to pass laws expediting adoptions, implementing tax credits and simply bringing attention to the crisis of thousands of American children that were sometimes just plain forgotten.

Dave knew that government had to play a role in making the system better – after all, the kids in foster care are in the care of the government. In 2001, he asked me to join the Board of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. I’ll never forget our conversation. He was serious and direct and challenged me to do my part to get rid of the bureaucracy that, quite honestly, was unacceptable when someone’s childhood was on the line. 

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The Journey of Adoption, from a Mother’s Heart

The Journey of Adoption, from a Mother’s Heart

In the life that I have created, and the circles in which I travel, the word “Mother” is almost never used alone. It is simply not complex enough to explain the relationship I have to the children that fill my car, my house and my life. With one glimpse of our family, most people can sense that I am a different kind of mother. One with more layers than what might be typical.

I am a biological mother, an adoptive mother, and a foster mother.

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Wendy's and Energy Management

Wendy's and Energy Management

We see environmental stewardship in restaurant development as a big responsibility and it connects to our Company values. We believe stewardship is a journey, a long-term commitment. It’s not something we are simply “checking off the list,” rather we’re driving purposeful change with bold goals that are brought to life through our culture and our business practices of how we plan, design, engineer, construct and operate our restaurants.

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Reflections from the 2016 Worlds of Flavors Conference and its influence on Wendy’s Menu

Reflections from the 2016 Worlds of Flavors Conference and its influence on Wendy’s Menu

Please welcome Lori Estrada to The Square Deal as our first guest blogger. Lori is Wendy’s Vice President of Culinary Development and has been bringing unique, great-tasting menu items to Wendy’s since 2001. During her tenure with the company, she has led the successful re-invention of several menu categories including salads, chicken and the renovation of Dave’s Single, Double and Triple hamburgers.  In 2014, Lori received Nation’s Restaurant News’s LTO of the year award for the 2013 Launch of the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Lori has brought more than 29 years of experience to Wendy’s, is active within the food and culinary industry and serves as a member on the Flavors Experience board.

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