BY PAMELA STERN
It is said that a 25th anniversary, is a silver anniversary. This celebration for Nellie and Herb Thomas, who happen to be celebrating their silver anniversary as being entrepreneurs of five McDonald’s franchises, two of which are located in Nyack and Spring Valley.
Why did they decide to open McDonald’s franchises? The former Rockland County residents said, “After working for corporations for many years, we decided to combine our talents and look at what we could do together that would generate money and allow us to work in the community in a meaningful way.
We wanted to touch lives individually and mentor people so that there would be a significant difference in their lives.”The Thomas’ had looked at several companies before agreeing that McDonald’s would give them the avenues that would reach their goals. The first franchise locations that Nellie and Herb Thomas bought were the Nyack, NY and the Ramsey, NJ locations. Later on they bought Spring Valley, NY, Boonton, NJ and Fairfield, NJ.
Being married for 35 years and working together for 25 years has to have its ups and downs.
Nellie said, “In the beginning it was very difficult. We made many visits to the freezer to discuss matters when we first started working together. Soon we realized that we needed to separate responsibilities. At that time, Herb became responsible for the operations and finances and I became responsible for personnel and public relations. Having the separate responsibilities has proven to be beneficial to us.
“Each of us are able to concentrate on part of the business and do an outstanding job and not be stressed as opposed to trying to do an outstanding job in all areas. Additionally, we make good partners. Neither one of us has to follow up on the other and we trust that each of us will give 100 percent to the business and our individual responsibilities.”
Nellie says that knowing and trusting that each of them will make the best decision for their business and having a partner to share the challenges and successes with is what she enjoys most about working with her husband Herb. “Sometimes there has to be comprises even though one of us might feel strongly about a particular issue,” she said.
From the outset, the Thomases thought it would be very difficult to be financially successful with one store. They believed that the more stores you have, the more lives that they can be a part of.
Owning five franchises of McDonald’s is challenging but, the Thomas’s believe that, you have to manage through others, make sure that they are trained properly, that they understand your philosophy and that they will implement the operations and policies according to our philosophy. “Since McDonald’s is a business which operates 24/7, we are working 24/7.”
When asked how has owning McDonald’s been profitable and fulfilling , Nellie said, “Having five stores that are run well and are financially profitable is not the only fulfilling part of being an owner…as an owner the number of lives that we change and the extent that we are able to change them is the most fulfilling part of being an owner.”
The Thomases like working with both children and adults. They feel that they have a different mission with each group. “Usually with children, working for McDonald’s is their first job. We feel that it is our responsibility to teach them work ethic. With adults, we feel
we should encourage them to look at how they can grow and develop a career in McDonald’s or how they can use the skills that we teach them to enhance their performance in other jobs.”
Nellie and Herb will be attending a special dinner that McDonald’s will be hosting for its 25th anniversary owners. The dinner information has not been set as of yet but, Nellie and Herb will be looking forward to the dinner once they are notified of the specific details.