Built to Last: Tommy Haddock Goes Three Decades And Counting

Tommy Haddock has added 10 Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits restaurants since we profiled him six years ago. As he approaches 50 this "hands-in" operator says his favorite photo of himself shows him making biscuits--a testament to his made-from-scratch, multi-million-dollar organization and his ongoing love for operations.

Not that he would ever win his company's biscuit-making competition. "I can make a pretty good biscuit, but I'd lose out on speed," says the easygoing North Carolinian who opened his first Bojangles' 32 years ago.

A graduate of North Carolina State University's School of Forestry, Haddock worked for a local power company before entering the restaurant industry. He learned from the best: Bojangles' founder Jack Fulp (now deceased), who also happened to be his father-in-law. "Jack connected me with the Richardson family and we formed a partnership, opening our first restaurant in January 1980," he recalls. "When we opened our first we were the 13th in the chain. The number 13 has been good to us."

Haddock's wife of 40 years, Donna, handles administrative and HR duties for the company, which has become known over the years for its close connection to the North Carolina and Virginia communities where its restaurants are located.

"We challenge our unit managers to know when local high schools have athletic events, who's playing, and whether it's a big game. We reach out to as many of the high school organizations as we can. We feel that, over time, this has helped us build our brand and presence in the market," says Haddock, whose favorite Bojangles' treat is the country ham and egg biscuit.

The company is also using other methods to reach out to the young people who will be its customers over the next 20 years, adds the father of two and grandfather of three. "We want to cultivate these young people as customers so we're doing more with electronic media, such as Facebook. We also want to keep our base customers, so we try to offer something special from one end of the spectrum to the other."

Recipient of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association's Restaurateur of the Year award in 2006, Haddock says he's proud of what he and his team have built. "We try to remind people that even though we're part of a chain, we are a local restaurant, too--locally owned and operated."


Name: Tommy Haddock
Title: Co-founder and president
Company: Tri-Arc Food Systems
No. of units 2012: 46 Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits
No. of units 2008: 36 Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

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