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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A Learning Journey – Wendy’s and Palm Oil

A Learning Journey – Wendy’s and Palm Oil

Managing a supply chain for more than 6,500 restaurants globally is no easy task, but it’s a skill we’ve honed as our brand has grown over the last four decades. Some parts of that task are harder than others. And interestingly, sometimes the most challenging links in our supply chain are the smallest. Palm oil is a perfect example, and tackling this important environmental issue has been and continues to be a learning journey for us.

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Celebrating our Community Ambassadors

Celebrating our Community Ambassadors

We started this program in 2010 to recognize the outstanding civic engagement of our employees – those who were improving their communities with their time, talent and resources. There are so many wonderful charities in the country, but as a Company and as a franchise system, we focus the vast majority of our financial support on The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and its mission of finding forever families for children who are waiting in foster care. We believe that’s where our time and treasure can make the most difference to the children who are in the most need. But we also know that employees care passionately about other causes as well, so we created Community Ambassadors as a way to reward charities who have a dedicated Wendy’s employee as their champion.

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Happy National Student-Athlete Day

Happy National Student-Athlete Day

Since 1994, we’ve sponsored the Wendy’s High School Heisman which serves to honor students who excel in athletics, academics and community service. In partnership with the team at the Heisman Trophy Trust, the Wendy’s Heisman has honored hundreds of thousands of the country’s best and brightest high school seniors who’ve gone on to become quite accomplished professionals. 

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Blogging about Bloggers

When it comes to telling our Brand story – our values and what we’re all about – there are a lot of different ways throughout our history that it’s been approached.

From the sponsorship of the Ohio State Fair back in our early years, to our history-making commercials (Where’s the Beef?) and our more recent award-winning digital content, we’re always exploring new and innovative ways to reach our fans and friends.

Throughout this run, we’ve always tried to stay true to our inherent brand voice.  Candidly, we had a few missteps here and there (who hasn’t?), but we’re proud of the work we do to continually explore new mediums and share many important messages.

We’re now entering new territory by getting into the blogging game ourselves, and for the first time we’re also welcoming a few folks from this community into the Wendy’s Family.

BLOGGERS PREP THEIR OWN SALADS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA (2015)

In recent history we have engaged with a couple influencer groups.  Last year we broke new ground when we invited 15 bloggers from the Clever Girls network behind the counter in five different markets for a first-hand look at the steps our crews take every day to prepare our salads. 

We were really proud to share all that we do to make a great-tasting salad, and to show the extreme care we take to make sure it’s a safe and enjoyable eating experience.  We intentionally have taken the long way around because we believe that the manner in which we do ‘all the things’ adds to our reputation in quality.  

But, the blogger’s reactions surprised us.

They had no idea we chop fresh iceberg and romaine lettuce, wash and spin it dry, and assess and audit the fields where it came from.

WENDY'S ASSOCIATE MANAGER, JENNA W. PREPARES SALADS FOR BLOGGERS

We often hear compliments like “I don’t normally eat fast food, but when I do, I eat at Wendy’s,” or “I don’t know what’s different about Wendy’s, but there’s definitely something different.” But what the blogger visit showed us is that we have a long way to go to really show what we do differently.

Enter these bloggers: 

BLOGGERS POSE AT WENDY'S RESTAURANT SUPPORT CENTER IN DUBLIN, OHIO

This year we’re partnering with five bloggers from all parts of the country and all walks of life. These influencers were hand-selected, not because they’re Wendy’s-fanatics and we promised them gold-plated Wendy’s gift cards (we didn’t), but because they are great, relatable people who tell tremendous stories, take awesome photos, have a loyal follower base and (most importantly) possess an interest and care about a lot of the same things that we care about. 

I’ve posted their bios below and links to their social channels.  After spending a day and a half together, I’m pleased to share they’re just as delightful and authentic in person as they come across on their various platforms.

Amiyrah, Joe, Kat, Rachel and Tanis got a crash course into our culture, history, values, marketing and menu vision. They met with members of our leadership and even spent an hour with Wendy Thomas herself asking questions ranging from what her first job was, to what Dave Thomas was like as a father, to why she supports foster care adoption.

No questions were off limits, and while we dressed to impress, we didn’t put on a façade.

BLOGGERS MEET WENDY THOMAS AND POSE WITH STATUE OF DAVE THOMAS AT WENDY'S FLAGSHIP RESTAURANT IN DUBLIN, OHIO

A major highlight of the day for this gang was their time in our test kitchen.  They learned (up close) about how we concept, develop, test and bring our menu items to customers.  They participated in a sensory panel, too, and while we don’t normally share photos of this space, take a look thru the gallery below.

They wrapped up their “all-things-Wendy’s” day by crafting custom Dave’s Singles with our culinary chefs…right on the line.

Please ask Joe how his bun turned out and Rachel what inspired her spicy burger...

Pardon the pun, but they got The Square Deal.

We’re looking forward to sharing their posts with you throughout the year!

Chat soon!

Bry

PS – Its 4/4 day.  Looking to celebrate? Stop by Wendy’s and get a 4 for $4 which now features the Crispy Chicken BLT. Our marketing guy asked me to add this shameless plug.  Our lawyer told me to remind you this is suggested pricing and price and participation may vary.

 

Meet our Bloggers

Amiyrah Martin

Amiyrah is a New Jersey mom, wife, Airman in the US Air Force, and all around frugal maven.  On her website, 4 Hats and Frugal, Amiyrah teaches families how to have fun on a dime, be a "baller" on a budget, and live a full life on less. She's a firm believer in living a frugal lifestyle without deprivation, and it’s her goal to show that with each article on her site. Amiyrah has been featured on Good Morning America, The Doctor Oz Show, The FABLife Show, Parade Magazine, Woman's World Magazine and CNN.

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Kat Bouska

Kat Bouska is the creator of Mama's Losin' It, a blog that shares a humorous take on parenting and pop culture. You can also find her sharing recipes, kid friendly activities, and funny skits as a video content creator on her YouTube channel MamaKatTV. Kat is a wife and mother of three. She operates a home daycare, watches too much reality television and chases children down hallways.

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Joe Miragloitta

Joe Miragliotta is the founder of Joe’s Daily, a men’s lifestyle and travel blog, and social brand with over a million collective followers. Since the beginning, he set out on a goal to curate all the new and exciting things in gear, tech, fashion, travel, and more. When he’s not traveling or working from his home office, you will find him at his local gym in Los Angeles.

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Rachel Matthews

Rachel is a writer, speaker, recipe developer, photographer, mom, wife, boot-wearer, fan of spicy foods, chips and salsa, belly-laughs, and hugs. When not in the kitchen, or hanging out with friends and neighbors, Rachel can be found volunteering at her kids’ schools, getting inspiration for recipes from restaurant menus, farmers markets, and Granny’s recipe cards. The view through her camera lens inspires her to capture and create memories each and every day.

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Tanis Miller

Tanis Miller, author of the blogs Attack of the Redneck Mommy and TanisMiller.com, is an award-winning writer, humorist and speaker. Her work has been featured on CNN, CBC, CBC News Network, Huffington Post and in a variety of North American newspapers and magazines. Tanis is a passionate advocate for adoption as well as for the rights of special needs children and their families. She resides with her family and an oversized dog in rural Canada.

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What’s humane when it comes to Animal Welfare?

Once again, welcome back! Or if you’re here for the first time, we’re glad you’ve joined us. Be sure to check out our first two blogs if you want to catch up.

Today, I want to cover some ground as it relates to our views on animal welfare and the humane treatment of the animals we rely on to provide our food.

So what’s “humane” when it comes to these animals? It’s a question that spurred us to begin auditing our suppliers for their animal welfare practices nearly 20 years ago, and it’s one we focus on a lot. In its simplest form, we ask what’s best for the animal and their basic nature.

We rely on experts in veterinary medicine, we review literature, we talk to suppliers, and we spend time with the people who know animals best, like Dr. Temple Grandin.  

Dr. Temple Grandin // Photo by Rosalie Winard

Dr. Temple Grandin // Photo by Rosalie Winard

Dr. Grandin is one of the top experts in the field of humane livestock handling.  She and other welfare experts serve on our external council, supporting and challenging us to continually evolve our programs. Over the years, these experts and our own in-house team have informed our approach and encouraged us to stay in lock-step with industry best practices about animal agriculture.

We’re not always the flashiest headline grabbers, and we pride ourselves on being thoughtful and informed by science and data to make decisions. But we believe this approach has served us well, and more importantly, it’s served animals well.

In 2001 we formed our Animal Welfare Advisory Council to review and strengthen our standards. Throughout the years, many aspects of those standards were shared and adopted industry wide and since then, we’ve conducted more than 1,300 audits. 

So what is an audit?

An audit is the practice used in the agriculture and farming industry to monitor, verify and evaluate proper animal handling among suppliers. This effort is based on extensive research conducted by experts in animal behavior science.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what makes Wendy’s so special as it relates to their audits? 

  • First, we start with our standards, and before a supplier can even enter our supply chain, we assess their facilities and practices and ensure they meet or exceed our requirements.
  • Second, we use our own team of experts to audit every single supplier. We start by auditing twice a year. If a supplier passes with flying colors three years in a row – that means getting a score of at least 97.5 on a 100 point scale – they are then audited by us once annually. And the passing score on our audits is 90 out of 100. Anything less than that – or failure on even one critical element – is a failed audit.  A failure results in a surprise re-audit that’s conducted between 30-60 days, and if you fail twice, you can’t be a Wendy’s supplier.
  • Third, we make sure to audit the auditors, and every supplier receives an additional annual audit from a third party expert who follows guidelines from the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).  You can check out the guidelines and learn more about this organization by clicking here.

We’re strict but fair, and we stick to our rules.  

WENDY'S ANIMAL WELFARE AUDIT HISTORY

Check out our auditing scorecard.  You’ll notice that the average scores have improved steadily over time in all species. Spurring continuous improvement is a primary motivation for our audits. Our suppliers work with us to continually improve, and to adjust their practices as our standards evolve and rise.

You’ll also notice that there have been failed audits. Not all suppliers pass our audits, and in some cases suppliers were not able to adhere to our standards and they are no longer suppliers to Wendy’s. We rely on our core values to guide us – especially Do the Right Thing – and while those decisions can be difficult, they’re necessary.

Fortunately, failed audits are not the norm because we work with some of the very best suppliers in the industry. Our shared values and our transparent and objective approach to auditing against clear standards makes the entire system stronger.  

We are always looking to stay current with evolving welfare standards and we adopt a continuous improvement mindset.

Click here to download a snapshot of the progress and changes we’ve made to our various animal housing and handling standards throughout the years.

Now let’s dig into some of our more recent commitments we’ve made in this area:

  • While the current thinking and science behind gestation stalls is split within the scientific and agriculture communities, we gave this issue thoughtful consideration and believe that it is difficult to justify sows spending that much time in a stall.  In the spirit of doing the right thing, in 2014 we set a goal to eliminate the use of gestation stalls by 2022 and are making good progress on this commitment as we currently source about 30% of our pork from suppliers who meet this standard.

  • In 2009, as our breakfast program evolved, we began purchasing a small amount of eggs from suppliers who raise their birds in open houses.  These layers are often called cage-free.  Although we later decided to only pursue breakfast in limited locations – about 400 out of more than 6,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada – we made the decision in early 2016 to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs in our U.S. and Canadian restaurants by 2020.  While industry practices seem to be moving in the direction of buying cage-free eggs, we’re working with our suppliers now to ensure that they can meet our needs for a 100% cage-free egg supply by our 2020 goal and do this in the best way possible for them, the birds and us.

Bottom line, whether we purchase a lot of a product (hello, Baconator) or a little, we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing as it relates to the animal. This is why we share these milestones and our auditing scorecard with you. 

More information to come as it relates to other aspects of our animal welfare program.

Feel free to drop us a line at squaredeal@wendys.com or fill out the fancy form under ‘contact us’ if you have questions or further comment.

Talk to you soon!

Liliana