Homerun King Hank Aaron Finds Success as Arby’s Franchisee With PM-Wendy’s Anniversary
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Hank Aaron has returned to the city where he hit most of his 755 home runs as a professional baseball player, but this time he’s traded his baseball garb for an entrepreneur’s attire.
Aaron has opened three Arby’s fast-food roast beef restaurants in the Milwaukee area and is contracted to open 12 more by 1991. Sales at his Arby’s outlets are expected to reach $2 million this year.
Aaron, a member of the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame and the major league’s all-time career home run leader, attributes his business success to favorable location, courteous service and competent management.
He said he chose to begin his business in Milwaukee because of low property costs and his attachment to the city where he spent 12 years as a professional baseball player. Aaron played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1975 and 1976.
″No matter how many places I go, Milwaukee always seems to be a part of me,″ Aaron said. ″The people have always been very kind to me and I’ll always remember that.″
Repaying that kindness is one reason why Aaron tries to impress upon his employees the importance of good service.
″The most important thing that I want all of us to understand is that we are serving the public,″ he said. ″Whether customers buy one Coke or 15 sandwiches, they’re all going to be treated the same way - with a smile and a ’thank you.‴
Aaron visits Milwaukee about four times a year, but spends most of his time in Atlanta where he is vice president of player development for the Atlanta Braves.
Fred Fiorito, who manages Aaron’s Wisconsin operations, said a strong economy in Milwaukee and good consumer response to Arby’s roast beef sandwiches account for much of the restaurants’ success.
″There’s just been a real good reception for Arby’s in Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole,″ Fiorito said.
Arby’s sells roast beef sandwiches and other hot specialty sandwiches many consumers see as a welcome alternative to hamburgers.
Aaron said at a grand opening celebration for one of his three locations that an elderly woman thanked him for bringing Arby’s to a community that had offered ″nothing but hamburger joints.″
Aaron’s stores have ″added a nice component″ to Arby’s Milwaukee operations, said Norma Stanley, Arby’s manager of corporate communications in Atlanta.
Aaron is also spokesperson for the company’s corporate charity, the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program, and has helped to raise $5 million over the last four years, she said.