KFC Entrepreneur Inspires Young Producers

UK - The world-renowned entrepreneur famed for building the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand gave a motivational address to young National Farmers' Union (NFU) poultry farmers this week.
calendar icon 22 October 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

John Y Brown bought the now internationally-famous KFC recipe from Colonel Sanders at the age of just 28 for $2m in 1964. He built it into world’s second largest food service company before selling it seven years later.

After speaking at a Tesco conference, the former governor of Kentucky visited the NFU’s Stoneleigh headquarters to meet the young producers of the union’s Poultry Industry Programme.

John Y Brown JuniorOutlining how he built the KFC brand on product quality and smart marketing, he challenged the farmers to think big and carve out a niche when developing their businesses for the future.

“You are in the right business,” he said, “the food industry is the greatest in the world – how can you be in a more important industry than food?”

He outlined the golden rules of business that he stuck to when opening thousands of fast food outlets in the late 60s and early 70s.

“Give the public what they want in a way that they want it,” he said, adding that in modern society, convenience was king. He said that businesses should ask questions until they were given ananswer that they were happy with so that they understood the market and were able to make the right decision.

On launching a new product, he suggested using a mantra that key stuck to during his time with the fast food company – “build one and if it works, build another.”

John, now 78, went on to lead an incredible career, becoming elected as the Governor of Kentucky for four years in 1979. He also owned three basketball teams including the Boston Celtics.

In 2009 he was recognised as one of the outstanding business leaders of the 21st century by Harvard Business School.

So, why did he sell such a fast-growing, successful business after just seven years?

“I sold up because I started hiring corporate people – they started looking at me saying ‘what do you know about running a business?’”

But he had many words of encouragement for the young advocates of poultry, telling them to find their niche and ‘stay ahead of the curve’ when it came to customer trends.

“You are in an industry that’s all about change. If you’re ahead of the curve, you have every chance of being successful.”

Charlotte Johnson

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