Earlier this week, news of the death of Troy Smith didn't seem to make much of a ripple. But, Smith's impact on how we order and consume a hamburger is being felt to this day in cities and small towns around the U.S.
Smith was the founder of Sonic Corporation, the company who today manages 3,600 drive-in restaurants in 42 states.
In the late 1950's, Smith had just left the military. He was driving along the Texas-Louisiana border and dined at a restaurant who used a car-to-kitchen intercom for ordering food. Enamored with the idea, and the technology, he used this approach for his root beer stand in Shawnee, OK. From those humble beginnings, a quick-service restaurant chain was born.
It is Smith's business practices, though, which should be the biggest cause for attention. He believed strongly in the value of customer service and coined the phrase "Service with the Speed of Sound." He attracted young talent and turned workers into managers.
Smith was known for chuckling even when given bad news and consistently heaped praise on his associates. He stayed involved in the business all of his life, even though he retired from day-to-day operations in 1983.
Smith implemented an idea for dining out during the rise of the automobile, the construction of roads and superhighways, and an American public's increased desire to eat away from home. And, he did it with quality service and product, along with a pleasant and inspiring business leadership style, as his cornerstones for success. Sounds like a legacy we all could emulate...
Mr. Smith was 87.