JIM COLLINS PANORAMA, at WVRC on November 12th
CLAWSON BLEAK (pronounced BLAKE, note) led the Pledge. Rev. SUSAN KLEIN gave the Invocation: “Oh God, We thank you for morning light and evening peace, for the night in which you restore our spirit's strength, and the day which should lead us into larger life. For the past, from which so much has come to bless us and for the future, to which we lift our eyes in hope. For the body in which our souls are nurtured, and for the soul by which our body is glorified. For the mind which asks probing questions, and the spirit by which life’s mysteries are exalted. For truth, which finds the conscience in law, and for mercy which frees us from bondage. For beauty which rejoices the eye, and for skill that disciplines the hand. For saints whose deeds and dreams are one, and for sinners, who hunger and thirst beyond their deeds for blessing. For the love that redeems the heart from fear, and for the grace that sustains us in every adversity. For the work done in this world, we give you thanks, Oh God, our strength and redeemer.” Wow, those are good words, SUSAN thanks. LENNY again bore up well under his latest intro seems he is widely known as a fabulous cook (except to LENNY himself) so when he was in Paris, Michelin asked him to conduct a Chef’s Choir. When questioned about his specialty, LENNY is reported to have answered “Frozen Dinners” which left things up in the air. Prexy ED did display another one of his wonderful hats, this one obviously for a chef, and Lenny did, indeed, lead us in I Love To Go To Rotary, words by RICK BROUS.
We had one visiting Rotarian, Dar Vriesman, and his wife, Elaine. Dar belongs to the Westminster Club in Colorado, and you can probably figure out to whom they may be related. NICK KAHRILAS brought Pat Norton, who is in Insurance, and played some football for the Bruins. PP MIKE NEWMAN again introduced Masaki Nakoda, our Ambassadorial Scholar from Japan. CAROL COLLINS was there to hear what PP JIM had to say. PEGGY BLOOMFIELD was with MARGIE DOWNIE of the Auxiliary. STEVE PETTISE brought David Wang as his guest. PP STEVE SCHERER introduced PP DON NELSON’S Special Guest, Dana Wood. Prexy ED brought Dr. Arthur Geoffrion, the James A. Collins Professor of Management at the Anderson School. We also had a Rotaractor, Marian Pavolich, with us. Indeed, there were so many guests that we needed another table set up.
Modesty forbids my saying more, but the Head Table was particularly impressive, sporting the likes of PP BOB LUSK, DR RALPH BEASOM, and little ol me! One disreputable guesser from the audience suggested we were up there to demonstrate degrees of hair loss, about which I am inordinately sensitive, as I’m sure anyone who cares, knows. But it turns out we were the three ‘oldest’ members of WVRC, after PP JIM of course. Through my tears, I observed PP RON LYSTER receiving the Cabernet prize.
Yesterday was the Auxiliary program, Jewels you own and jewels you would like to own, and Prexy Ed gave a touching testimonial to the success of the event based on his observation of all the new jewelry Kathy came home with. The District Breakfast was also this week, and our ten members all agreed that the Speaker, Jean Irwin, was terrific. We will try to schedule her here at WVRC.
PEGGY BLOOMFIELD, accompanied by her son, our PP BILL, were both in Evanston, to be inducted into the Arch C. Klumph Society. Peggy told us they arrived in Evanston Monday afternoon, and were taken to dinner by the Trustees of the Society. After breakfast the next morning, they went to R.I. Headquarters for the Presentation. A number of Trustees were present, and the event was chaired by Glenn Estess Sr, a past R.I. President and current President of the R.I. Foundation. The ceremony itself was very moving PEGGY cried, (but PP BILL did not). They then hung their own portraits in the Gallery. There was a new feature by pushing a button, a picture of any Klumph member would appear, along with his or her biography. They were taken to lunch after the ceremony, and flew back to LA that afternoon. It was truly a memorable and wonderful visit.
I was called on to remind everyone that this will be the second Saturday, and as always, the Reading To Kids program goes on. We meet at Magnolia Elementary School last month there were 40 volunteers and 200 kids and then break up into small groups, based on grade levels. There are two instructors and 6 to 10 kids in each group. During the reading, it can be helpful to stop if you come to a word you think they may not understand, and the kids themselves are quite participatory which is what makes it so much fun. They also have some crafts, and this week WVRC will have 7 participants MARSHA HUNT, YOE, my grandson Will Phelps and his girlfriend, Amanda Peck, plus three Rotaractors. The real kicker is that they provide chocolate donuts! It’s a wonderful program, and I hope some of you will join us next time that will be December 12th so Save The Date, please!
Nov 20th next Friday, the SC-UCLA Rally will be held at the Bonaventure Hotel, downtown. We are one of the co-hosts, and we have two tables of ten each reserved. Since it starts at 11 am, carpoolers will gather at Belmont Village, next to the Methodist Church at 10:15, latest. For those driving down separately, you can park for $7.50 at 400 S. Flower St, or Self Park at the Bonaventure, or valet there also.
Dec 8th, Tuesday Auxiliary, 11:30 at the home of CLARK and AUDREY McQUAY a catered luncheon decorated with CLARK’S prize-winning flowers and a collection of carolers. The program is chaired by CAROL COLLINS and DORIS OGILVIE, and MARGIE DOWNIE will take your check for $25. All are welcome, of course!
The Braille Holiday Cabaret will start that same day, Dec. 8th, and run on the 8th, 9th, and 10th, starting at 10 until 11:30. This is a new format, designed to allow more visually handicapped Braille patrons to attend, and as in the past, Rotary hosts are needed. I’ve done their luncheon program, and this is a wonderful way to start the Christmas spirit call Carmen Apelgren at Braille, (323) 663-1111, please.
Dec 10th, Thursday, after our regular meeting, the Christmas Shopping Spree will be on. We gather at the Salvation Army Center on Sepulveda at 5:30 pm, where we meet the 25 kids whom we will join for their shopping. Each one gets $50 from WVRC, and sponsors dole out the cash. We bus to dinner after picking up the kids, and when we return to the Salvation Army Center, each child receives his own present supplied for these many years by PP JOHN SINGLETON Again, this is a winner, and of course spouses are also welcome. Please call MIKE YOUSEM!
And, Yes, the Auxiliary has plans for 2010, too
Jan. 12th, the famous Auxiliary Auction will be at noon at the home of ROZ and DON NELSON. After lunch, PP DON will be the Auctioneer, with a wide variety of treasures to be offered. Income goes toward the Auxiliary Fun Party next summer.
PP DON NELSON introduced our Speaker, PP JIM COLLINS. DON began by reminding us that PP JIM is not the oldest member of WVRC that honor belongs to HENRY TSENG, who is 102! However, he is the senior member of our Club, having joined on Feb 26th, 1953. So he has been a member for 56 years, 8 months and 14 days. He was Club President in 1962-63. It may not be well known, but when JIM sold his business several years ago, he donated over $70,000 to our Foundation. His wife, Carol, supports him in all his Rotary work, while DON’S wife Roz and Carol were sorority sisters. DON, somehow, seems to think JIM’S greatest contribution to Rotary was sponsoring him, DON, into WVRC in 1992!
JIM began with a quick story. In 1950, there were four Rotarians BOB CAMPBELL, who had the Bookstore, GENE ROSS, who had the Photo Studio, FRANK REDMAN, who had the Moving and Storage business, and BOB LEONARD, who was in commercial real estate. That year, each of their daughters got married, starting with Bob Campbell his daughter married BOB TOLSTAD. GENE ROSS’S daughter, Peggy, married John Roberts. FRANK REDMAN’S daughter, Margie, married JIM DOWNIE, and then there was Carol Leonard JIM couldn’t remember just who it was…It was a great summer, and after all those weddings, when you get married and most of the Rotary members have already been to your wedding, joining Rotary isn’t a hard thing to do!
In 1953, when JIM joined, we met at Truman’s Restaurant, at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood. Lunch cost $2.50. A few years later, they had to demolish the building to make way for a big high rise, which is there today. So we moved around Westwood for maybe a year and a half, never with room for a meeting, and in January 1962 we ended up at the Bel Air Hotel. We have been here at UCLA for 2 years and 9 months. That moved was caused when the meals at Bel Air went from $40 to $50 and JIM likes it here, since he’s at UCLA a lot anyway. About a year after we moved to the Bel Air, we changed our name to Westwood Village, so we could form a new club with our old name, West LA Rotary. That was later changed to WLA/ Brentwood.
Switching to his business, JIM noted that he graduated from UCLA in January 1950 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He went to work for a construction company, and built Catholic Churches for the next two years and by the way, that’s good luck! In 1952, he was actually remodeling a building on the corner of Mr. Leonard’s property at Sepulveda and Centinella.
This was a ten acre parcel, shared with an 18-pump gas station and a trailer park with 110 trailer spaces. During this construction, the Edison man came along and asked what kind of electrical connection he would need. His name was Vern Goode, and as he got into his car, he said to Jim, “Would you have time to take a ride with me tomorrow?” JIM said sure, and the next day they drove out to San Bernardino remember, there weren’t any freeways then, and it was a long ride. He met two brothers, who were running a McDonald’s Hamburger Stand they were Vic and Maurice McDonald, and this was the first McDonalds there are now about 18,000. People were lined up out to the curb, and they only offered hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries, malts and soft drinks, period. It was a fabulous operation, and when I got home that night, I said to my father-in-law, “Have you got time to take a ride with me tomorrow?” (some laughter here)
Again, it was a long drive, but the same scene as the day before. When they got back, JIM said, “Wow, that’s for me!” So they changed their plans, changed their supplier and on the 29th of September 1952, JIM opened his hamburger stand. They offered a bigger patty, sold their hamburgers for 19 cents, but everthing else was the same as McDonalds. It was an immediate success and JIM feels the reason was there was great demand, but very few stores selling just hamburgers.
In 1960, Jim had trained some of his people for Carnation Company, and he was in Northern California working with a lady named Mrs. Burke. She had four hamburger stands, and had added Kentucky Fried Chicken to her menu. She asked what JIM was doing the next day, and he had nothing specific, but figured he’d be back flipping hamburgers.”No, you’re not,” she said. They got on an American Airlines flight to Louisville, arriving the next morning at 0600 remember, this was before jets, and it took all night. When they arrived there was six inches of snow on the ground, and Colonel Sanders met them and took them to his house in Shelbyville.
JIM was with the two of them for the next 2 ? days, and before he left he had signed a Franchise Agreement to put KFC in his hamburger stands. He did this, and when the Colonel came out to visit him later in 1960, JIM picked him up at the airport and if you remember, at that time it was on the east side of Sepulveda! When Sanders got off the airplane in his white suit, everybody thought he had just gotten loose from someplace (again, laughter). He made JIM his agent from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, and between 1962 and 1970 Jim opened 250 KFC stores. Jim kept 33 of them, but the rest were all franchised. And to complete this part of the story, when Colonel Sanders, in his white suite, came out again in 1970, people were asking for his autograph.
In November 1968, they became a public company. Meanwhile, in 1967, Del Johnson, the owner of Sizzlers’ came to JIM and said he wanted to move to Palm Springs and play golf, and JIM was to buy Sizzlers. At that time, Sizzler had four company stores, and the rest were franchises from NY to Hawaii. The company wasn’t doing too well at the time and Jim, with two fraternity brothers, bought it for $985,000, with nothing down and a ten year note!
By 1980 their combined sales were almost 600 million dollars. Come 1990, they wanted to trade 20 of their stores in Orange County to Pepsi cola, who owned KFC by then, for 20 of their stores on the Westside. They ended up trading the stores for Pepsi stock, which turned out well.
JIM met Coach John Wooden a long time ago, and he learned that John was regularly eating at the Sizzler Restaurant on Van Nuys Blvd, which was a short distance from where John lived he could walk back and forth. In 1982 they decided to take Sizzler out of the public companies, so JIM asked his two partners if they would like to have John Wooden on their Board. He came aboard, and in the nine years he was a member, he never missed a quarterly meeting. So, as Jim reminds us, while he didn’t play basketball for John, he did get to know him very well it was a terrific time.
They sold 209 KFC stores to Pepsi, and thus were a much smaller company. They continued to build KFC and Sizzler stores in Queensland (that’s the name of the state, or province) in Australia. Three and a half years ago a company in Sydney, Australia, took them private. They have a program where they own 52% of the company, and the employees own the rest. After a few more years, the employees will be able to buy back the 52%, so the company will be entirely employee-owned. Jim had now made 46 trips to Australia he loves to give out their awards. Today they have 117 KFC stores in Queensland and 27 Sizzler restaurants, and their sales there will be about 350 million. Most of their profit today comes from Australia.
Switching back to 1954, Jim is in Rotary with Jerry Pritchett, who is a real estate broker. JIM had decided to move from Culver City, and Jerry asked him if he wanted 1, 2 or 4 acres? They drove north on Bundy, and JIM bought four acres that was part of a ten acre avocado ranch. It had a caretaker’s house on the property, and the Collins lived there for awhile. The best architect in town was Hap Gilman, who had a gorgeous house in Sullivan Canyon he designed their house. Another member, Bill Baines, was a builder, and he built the house. Another member was Bill Beresford and I (Ernie, that is) knew him, since he and I joined Rotary the same day in 1961. - he had managed the Los Angeles Country Club, and was then doing some landscape designing, so he took care of their landscape. Thus the whole house was planned, built and finished by Rotarians.
JIM couldn’t resist pointing out the way you are greeted in Australia. When you are young, they say G’Day. When you are middle aged, they say, What’s up, Mate? And when you are older, they say My, you’re looking well. (laughter, of course). He also told the story of a visit they had to Las Vegas for a Convention. As they were walking along, Jim said to Carol, “You know, we’ve been terribly lucky, meeting Colonel Sanders and getting into the chicken business”. And then he said, “You know, if we hadn’t been that lucky, would you still love me?” She replied, “Yes, but I’d miss you a lot”. He also remembered taking the Colonel to see “Mary Poppins”. He had forgotten that Colonel Sanders didn’t like movies, and he slept through the whole thing.
Another pet peeve of the Colonel’s was golf if you lifted up the trunk door and there were golf clubs there, he didn’t think you could have time to run a chicken store AND play golf. He travelled a lot, and one day on an airplane was seated next to Pat Boone. The Colonel got Pat to promise to sing at his funeral. And when JIM showed up on December 20th, 1980 for the funeral in Louisville, there was Pat Boone signing at the service. The Colonel was 90.
Q&A Whatever happened to the hamburgers? We made a conscious decision in 1968 that Ray Kroc, who owned McDonalds, was going to run over us with a truck. Ray had bought the two brothers out in 1954. Today there are probably 14,000 chicken stores. What would you say is your most satisfying charity? I hadn’t thought about that a lot, but I certainly like my Hospitality School out in Pomona. and I’ve got a real nice building up here at the Anderson school. What would you advise a prospective member about why to join Rotary? If I hadn’t had a good architect, builder, and landscape designer through Rotary, I would have missed all that. He noted that Mike Yousem is his plumber! Could you tell us the name of your fraternity? There’s only one…What are you doing right now? Not much - there’s a new building at Cal Poly, Pauley Pavilion, and a new building for the YMCA. But other than that…It may have been ALY SHOJI that I think asked, something about what’s the secret of your success? It’s one hamburger and one chicken at a time, Aly. When I got out of high school in 1944, we didn’t have any counselors my dad was a civil engineer, my uncle was a civil engineer, my brother-in-law was a civil engineer, so that’s how I decided, But in reality, if I’d had some good counseling, I probably wouldn’t have done that. Did you take the Colonel to Church one time? Yes, I took him to church, to the Bel Air Bay Club, to Rotary. Jim, when you went public, you didn’t forget Rotary we all had a chance to buy your initial offering. And YOE had to add, I sold my 50 shares a little later, and made enough to buy my son a car when he was a senior in high school. (It went from 18 to 48 dollars a share). What was your contract with the Colonel? He paid me, and after awhile it got to about $40,000 a month. John Y Brown, the CEO of KFC, tried to buy Jim’s contract for three million dollars. Jims quick quote if you make money, that’s fun. If you can have money, that’s even more fun, and if you can give it away, that’s the most fun of all.
Why are your stores in Australia more profitable than those here? Well, the chicken stores there do 2 ? times the volume they do here, and the Sizzlers do $80,000 per week. People there are more outdoorsy, they eat out more I just can’t really describe it. They have been up every year for the last five years. I noted that I remembered buying an ice cream cone in Australia for 50 cents you can’t do that here. That’s right, Ernie. We always do those good things. Tell your friends!
Words of Wisdom -
Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.