Q. When did you begin your career at Darden and what is your current position?
A. I was 16 when I started at Darden, which was then General Mills, as a broiler chef at York Steak House in Canton, OH, in 1973. I was saving money for a muscle car — I bought a 1973 Plymouth Roadrunner. I worked seven years at the restaurant and was a part-time manager while earning an accounting degree in college, and I also helped my father with his accounting business. He hoped I would take it over, but instead, I became York’s first financial analyst. I met my wonderful wife of 38 years while working at York Steak House where she was a server. About 1985, I moved to Orlando, FL, when General Mills decided to consolidate its operations here. During my 45 years with Darden, I have held leadership positions in restaurant management, accounting, brand finance, operations excellence, and development. Right now I’m a senior director leading three departments: Risk Management, Asset Management and New Restaurant Support Services.
Q. What was your job like in the early days of your career?
A. We didn’t have personal computers or Excel spreadsheets, so I’d use a calculator to determine the return on investment for a new restaurant opportunity on paper. If someone wanted to change one number, I’d have to start all over and recalculate every number manually.
Q. What do you like best about working at Darden?
A. Everyone who has led the company has displayed strong values and high integrity. That’s been a constant, and it’s important to me — I’m proud to work for a company that treats people with respect and whose values align with mine. Also, I’ve worked in plenty of challenging positions over the years, and I’ve had fun.
Q. What are your greatest accomplishments?
A. My three adult sons are my greatest personal accomplishment. As for my career, there are two: starting the New Restaurant Support Services department and restructuring the Risk Management department to take on more responsibility and become more efficient. I’ve always tried to do more with less.
I’m also passionate about providing outstanding service and support to our operations teams. I always follow up to make sure requests or issues have been taken care of. If a restaurant operator calls me about something that's not my responsibility, I will transfer him or her to the person who can help and stay on the line.
Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A. About 11 years ago I bought another muscle car — a 1967 Pontiac GTO — and it’s a beauty. I spent 700 hours restoring it, and I take it to car shows. I also have a motorcycle that my wife and I enjoy riding.
Q. If you could live in any other time in history, when would you choose and why?
A. First of all, I’m very blessed with my family and career so I would not want to live in any other time, but I’d like to visit! I could visit the future and find out if the values I’ve instilled in my sons translated down to their grandchildren’s grandchildren. As for the past, I’d like to visit during the Renaissance or the Roaring Twenties for the fashion, dance, music and style of that era.