- Chick-fil-A just announced Andrew Cathy will begin as CEO on November 1.
- Cathy will be the chain’s third CEO, succeeding his father and grandfather.
- Chick-fil-A prioritizes keeping the business in the family.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Andrew Cathy, age 43, will take over the role from his father Dan Cathy, who became CEO in 2013. Andrew became an executive in 2015, first as chief people officer and then head of operations. He later took over international strategy.
Dan told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that Chick-fil-A is able to make this transition right now from a position of strength.
“One of the things we learned is that you don’t want to make transitions under crisis. You don’t want to do it when the wheels are falling apart. You don’t want to do it when the leader has long since worn out their welcome and everybody’s kind of waiting on them to retire or to leave,” he said. “You want to hand that baton off when things are in their best shape ever.”
The Cathy’s have run Chick-fil-A from its beginning in the 1960s, and are the 21st richest family in the US, worth $US14.2 ($AU19) billion according to Insider’s reporting. Keeping the business in the family has been important to the Cathy’s. In 2000, Andrew’s father Dan Cathy signed a covenant with his father agreeing to keep the company private and never open on Sundays. He also promised to continue Chick-fil-A’s philanthropic work and to remain committed to his Christian faith.
There are no signs any of this is likely to change under Andrew, who is following in the family tradition. Dan told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that he’s been studying up on family businesses.
“Family businesses are really the bedrock of our economy… The bulk of the economy is based on families and succession in families,” he said. “And why is it that the wheels fall off the wagon? It helped me understand that we can grow a business, but if we don’t grow the family, and the way that family interacts with the business, we could likely have it come apart like all these other businesses have suffered. And it’s a tragic thing when businesses fail.”