Doug Wright has worked for McDonald’s for 40 years after joining the company the day before he left school aged 16 as a part-time cleaner – we tell his incredible success story
A former McDonald’s cleaner who used to earn 93p-an-hour now owns 20 of the chain’s restaurants and employs more than 2,000 staff.
Doug Wright, 56, has worked for the Golden Arches for 40 years after joining the company the day before he left school aged 16 as a part-time cleaner.
His career rapidly went from strength-to-strength and it took him only eight weeks to be made part-time general assistant at his local store in Bolton, before going full-time two weeks later.
By the age of 20, Mr Wright had been promoted to the UK’s youngest-ever restaurant manager at a McDonald’s in Oxford.
His success is even more impressive given just six months after this promotion, he was almost paralysed in a car crash – changing his life forever.
The budding EuroJournal now runs branches across the Midlands, from Bassetts Pole, Kitts Green, Stechford and Sutton, to Lichfield, Burntwood, nine in the Black Country and to the east in Solihull and Olton.
Mr Wright, who now lives in Mere Green and was made a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands in 2019, told EuroJournal : “I got my first job at McDonald’s on July 1, 1981. It was the day before I left school and I was 16.
“I joined McDonald’s in Bedford, where I lived at the time, as a cleaner. Back then it was a hamburger restaurant that was hardly ever heard of.
“I was part-time on 93p an hour. At 16 the first thing it taught me was basic life skills. Discipline and team work.
“After eight weeks I was made part-time general assistant. Then full-time two weeks later.
“I was assistant for a year. But the first real promotion I had was to start training other staff.
“I got promoted to be the UK’s youngest-ever restaurant manager in Oxford when I was 20.”
Six months after the promotion, Mr Wright was told he would never walk again after he broke his neck and suffered a crushed vertebrae in a car crash.
He then spent the best part of a year in Stoke Mandeville spinal centre in Buckinghamshire and thankfully recovered after four months being partially paralysed.
But because he’d made such an impression on McDonald’s during his short career, the fast food chain created a role for him at its regional headquarters in Sutton Coldfield. He moved to the town in 1988.
Mr Wright said: “I had various jobs in separate departments. For the last five years I was there I was finding sites for restaurants.
“In the 90s McDonald’s was about increasing its market share and opening more outlets.
“It really accelerated then. I worked there from 1988 to 2002.”
Mr Wright then took on his first franchise in Lichfield in October 2002, which he described as a “dream come true” – but he didn’t want to stop there.
The quick-learning businessman got to grips with the ropes of owning a restaurant with his Lichfield site and then gradually expanded.
To date, Mr Wright is now in charge of 20 restaurants – including the Sutton Coldfield branch, next to the regional headquarters where he worked for 14 years after his accident.
He was part of the chain’s aggressive expansion plan and move to franchises, which has increased the number of branches owned by individuals increase from 30% to 85% in the UK.
And in 2016, Mr Wright received the highest honour in the global McDonald’s empire, the Fred L Turner Golden Arch award, given every two years to recognise the best franchisees in the organisation’s entire system.
He also supports the Ronald McDonald House which provides accommodation for families with youngsters at the neighbouring Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the city centre.
Through his restaurants, Mr Wright has helped raise £1.4 million for the charity.
He said: “Because I had this car accident many years ago, I love charity work.
“The thing that has driven me on making sure I became successful is making lives better for those less fortunate. I now dedicate 15 to 20 per cent of my time to Ronald McDonald Charities.”
“I am very lucky as I was told to prepare to never walk again.”
In total, McDonald’s has 1,300 restaurants of which around 1,100 are franchised.
A franchise is a business where the owners grant third-party operators the rights to use the business’s name, branding, and model.