Robert Pyles had it tough during childhood, raised in a small town outside of Anniston, Alabama, one of nine siblings by a single mum, losing his oldest brother at age 18 and having to cater for his mom after turning 18, thankfully today, with focus, a positive mindset and hard work, he has an impressive 12 McDonald’s franchises in Wisconsin to his name as well as boasts of being one of the largest black employers in the state.nIn addition to running his empire, Pyles is a minister at Abundant Faith Church of Integrity.
Pyles from humble beginnings has risen from untold depths, it all started after high school, he went into the Air Force serving for 15 years and living in Korea, North Dakota, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. While at Wyoming, he began working at McDonald’s part-time at night and on weekends. It was love at the first entrance to him, he loved everything about it; from serving customers and everything his job entailed.
Two and a half years he completed the McDonald’s ownership training program, at that time, Don Thompson, the former CEO of McDonald’s Corp., was the director of operations and also Pyles’s mentor. He then suggested that he check out some McDonald’s locations in Milwaukee because it was ripe for growth. Pyles didn’t waste time, he launched right away.
On Feb. 14, 1998, Pyles opened his first McDonald’s. Reminiscing like it like it was yesterday, black enterprise reports.
“It was the first day of ‘two for $2’ Big Macs. It was incredibly busy. Inside, I wasn’t sure how we were going to get through the day. But I told myself ‘never let ‘em see you sweat.’ I knew I had to hold true to what I believed.”
He reportedly employs 600 people from the community. “With my first location that I acquired, I worked tirelessly to turn around performance, he says. “A year or so later, I took over a second one. From there, we went from three to nine between September and June.”
Reflecting on his journey, Pyles says that all growth isn’t good growth. “You must be prepared for growth and pay close attention to profitability. You can have less stores and be more profitable. My goal wasn’t necessarily to keep adding stores. I wanted to create a training center environment to let people see that an African American operator can operate at a certain level.”
Pyles apart from providing jobs to the community noticed the struggle of employees to find affordable housing near work, this birthed Magnolia Realty, according to the site.
He partnered with a friend that had a construction business, and they began purchasing foreclosed properties around his McDonald’s stores, fixing them up, and selling them to employees at a fair price.
He also disclosed his grownup children work his establishment,
“I recognize that my business is bigger than me. My children are all in their 30’s now, and they work with me in the business. I’m grateful for that, but I also let them know that they have the freedom to choose their own path. It’s important to let them decide.”
“I think it’s really important to be both visible and accessible in the community. It’s not enough for me alone to be successful. My goal is to help others get approved for McDonald’s ownership. I started with my wife because there’s no inherited ownership in the event that an owner passes away. Now I’m working on getting others approved.” He sees his businesses as “a light on the corner” in the inner city. “I’m constantly learning and growing with the community.”