On his first day with McDonald’s, Rick peeled and blanched some potatoes and whipped up chocolate milk shakes. It was July 11, 1968, and Rick was a $1.25 an hour crew person at store #132 in Oshkosh WI. At the Oshkosh store Rick eventually worked his way up to hourly manager.
“My father died when I was 15, and we all worked,” Rick said. “The kid next door, Bob Duvall, had gotten a job at McDonald’s , and he got me one too.” Bob eventually became the store manager for the McGraw’s and managed the South Sixth St location.
Rick stayed with the Oshkosh McDonald’s for seven years, working there part time while majoring in business at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Then McDonald’s asked him to go to Wausau, WI to see if he could help bail out a franchisee there.
“They wanted me to help him turn his operation around and get re-licensed.” He was in Wausau three years, during which time he met his future wife, Dona, who worked in public relations for Employers Insurance Co.
“I had majored in business, so I knew that’s what I wanted to do. But we had bought a home in Wausau, and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with McDonald’s. The corporation wanted me to continue my career with them, but I wanted to be a franchisee.”
Rick was set up with McDonald’s corporate licensing department in Oak Brook, where he was able to start his first restaurant on a Business Facilities Lease arrangement. McDonald’s was to build the restaurant and provide the personnel to help get it going. The McGraw’s were to put up $30,000 of their own money to finance inventory, uniforms, etc. They would run the store and have the chance to buy it at one, two, or three years. “We looked at a couple of sites in both Litchfield, IL, and Kennett, MO,” Rick said and decided upon the Litchfield location which opened December 20, 1978. “Dona opened in the mornings, and I worked 9am to 9pm that first year. We brought a manager with us that closed.” Within six months, the restaurant had made $100,000, and the McGraw’s exercised their lease buy-out.
In 1981 Rick and Dona bought the store in Highland and built a new unit in Carlinville. They bought Jerseyville in 1984 and started building another new store in Hillsboro in 1988.
At the same time the McGraw’s were being recognized within the McDonald’s ranks for their strong management. Their rural stores won 10 outstanding store awards, and in 1981 they won a regional McDonald’s award for marketing. In 1983, they won a Golden Arch Award, given every two years to the top six McDonald’s operators in the world. An award Rick is still proud of today.
In Mid 1988 the McGraw’s entered negotiations with Jim and Tom Mack to buy the Springfield McDonald's market.
“I was looking for a new challenge,” Rick said. The McGraw Group bought the eight existing Springfield Stores in January 1989.
Rick, along with his wife, Dona, and son, Mike now own nine stores, including Litchfield, Williamsville, and seven in Springfield.
Rick has served in various leadership roles with McDonald’s throughout his career and is currently a member of the Place Team and Development for the Chicago Region. He is also involved in several community leadership roles and currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Hospital Sister Healthcare System Foundation.