Brent McGruder, 39, grew up in southwest Missouri and earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Arkansas in 1984.
As a college junior, McGruder went to work for minimum wage in a Taco Bell in Fayetteville – one of four Taco Bell franchise stores his father’s business purchased in 1982.
“I started out at the bottom,” McGruder said.
Now, McGruder is president of K-Mac Enterprises Inc. of Fort Smith, the second largest Taco Bell franchisee in the United States.
His father, Ken McGruder, founded the business in 1964 when he bought into Griff’s Hamburgers, a regional chain.
K-Mac, which had sales of about $120 million last year, now owns 143 restaurants in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, including 16 KFC franchises, 112 Taco Bell restaurants and 15 businesses that are co-branded both KFC and Taco Bell. The company also operates a Computerland retail store in Fort Smith.
The company is owned by Brent McGruder; Jon Dyer, chief financial officer, and Sam Fiori, chief operating officer.
“K-Mac’s philosophy has always been to find good people, set high expectations and reward them when those expectations are met,” McGruder said.
McGruder has a wife, Judy, and two children: Leigh, 5, and Trey, 3.