In McAllen, the name McDonald’s is synonomous with the word success. However, it takes a lot of hard work, long hours and many years to maintain that success.
Fred del Barrio was 18 and going to school half days, which caused his father to say, “Get a job!”
Reluctant to go job searching when he already brought in money from washing teachers vehicles, Fred found himself discussing his situation with his older sister’s boss at McDonald’s. Before he knew it, he had a job at McDonald’s.
“I still remember my first day,” said Fred. “After an orientation and getting issued my uniform, I went to the kitchen to start my training, working a 4 to 7 o’clock shift. I remember all these timers going off all over. At 7 o’clock I headed to the time clock to punch out, but was stopped on my way. It seems I still had to sweep the floor, take out the trash and restock before I could go. That night I dreamed of timers, buzzers and other things going off.”
For Fred, it was his job at McDonald’s, which taught him about work responsibility, being on time, having a clean pressed uniform, and about taking care of things. He also quickly learned about cross training.
“I found I had one shift a week during the summer and wanted to get more.” Fred said. I learned about the french fry station, front counter, and drive through which, ultimately, gained me more hours.”
Deciding he wanted to learn even more, Fred continued asking for more responsibility.
“I asked how to become a Trainer, a Shift Manager, Assistant Manager, and by age 20 I was the Assistant Manager.”
Fred became set in his goal to own a McDonald’s franchise.
“I told my dad this was what I wanted my career to be,” he said. “I knew someday I could own a McDonald’s restaurant.”
First in 1995, he became a partner. It took 12 years, but he’d done it. Determination had become a key word in Fred’s life. Then came the opportunity for his first solo restaurant. But it came at a price.
In 1996, McDonald’s had decided to build a store in the no-mans land on 281 at Nolana. There was nothing there, and no one wanted the store. It took some doing, but McDonald’s convinced Fred to go solo with that store. In doing so, he lost his partner, who wanted nothing to do with a store everyone was sure would fail.
Risk. Fred wrapped his arms around that word and jumped at the chance with both feet. That store is now one of his premier stores, which now numbers 12.
“I told McDonald’s I was going to be the premier franchisee in this market and they could count on me,” he said. “I told them, ‘When you need something done, I’ll do it. You’ve always had my back, so I’ve got yours.’ My boss had learned from Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, and I learned from my boss. You do things first class or you don’t do them at all.”
“What’s important is . . . are we doing the right thing in the community? Are our employees happy?”
With about 625 employees, Fred strives to insure family time is a top priority, with a balance between work and home.
Currently, Fred and his stores are in the midst of McDonald’s initiative called the Bigger, Bolder Vision 2020. Every store in the USA will be remodeled, super-sizing their previous Major Remodel Program.
“Every restaurant is going to be modernized. We want to be a modern progressive company,” said McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski.
“They’ll have the latest and greatest kitchens,” Fred said, excited about the new opportunities with his restaurants.
“I love what I do. When I was 40 I toyed with the idea of retiring, but then I thought, ‘What would I do?’”
Today, one of Fred’s favorite things to do is help other business people in the community with words of advice such as,
“Love your job enough so that if you had to do it for free, you would!” or “Learn to manage your money because there will always be good times and bad times.”
“Be persistent. Value your community. Value the people who are your customers because if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.”
Hard work, long hours, and many years have brought success, and wisdom, to a man who made a choice – and came out on top.