CHICAGO - This Black History Month, we celebrate a man who really loves McDonald’s.
So much so, he owned more than a dozen Chicago area restaurants throughout his career.
It was only by chance that he opened his first McDonald’s restaurant and the rest is history.
Late last year, Blanton Canady retired from a golden career with the Golden Arches.
"I always had the bug or the interest in becoming an entrepreneur," he said.
Meeting Barack Obama and Mohamad Ali, he was a heavyweight in his own right, owning 13 McDonald’s franchises.
"My last three restaurants were Navy Pier, McCormick Place and the Ogilvy Train Station," he said.
But before that, Canady worked for three Fortune 500 companies. He was on his way to California in the late 70s when he bumped into a childhood friend who worked for McDonald’s.
He opened his first location at 25th and King Drive in 1981.
"Nothing compares to opening your own business and so I went through the pains and throws of that the first year for sure," he said.
His success snowballed, as he opened McDonald’s locations at Navy Pier, McCormick Place, the Ogilvy Transportation Center, Michael Reese Hospital, Water Tower Place, in the western suburbs and on the South Side of Chicago.
"I was the first African American president of what we call our McDonald’s owners of Chicagoland and northwest Indiana," he said.
That was one of his proudest accomplishments, but he says nothing beats helping others follow their dreams as well.
"I'm very proud of the people development I was able to achieve. The fact that I had a number of people who started out with me as crew and ended up being managers and supervisors in my organization, that was a big achievement and always something I felt proud about," he said.
Canady is a fellow Fighting Illini, with a bachelor's degree in finance. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago.