Roland Parrish owns 27 McDonald’s restaurants in North Texas.
If you ask him about his incredible success, he wants you to hear the backstory first -- the one that started on the track team at Purdue University.
“I saw you could build a team in the business world, just like you can in athletics,” Parrish said.
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He held a couple management positions for big companies and often times, he was one of few African-Americans in the room.
For Parrish, it was always about winning.
“I wanted the right people, in the right places, so we could do good work,” Parrish said. “I ran service stations for 13 years for Exxon. I realized that I had a way of building a team. They started seeing they were making money and bonuses. This was when I was learning how to run a restaurant and didn’t really get that part until it happened.”
“When I made it further in corporate America, I wanted to start my own business. I really started studying to pass the CPA examination. During that time, I filled out an app to McDonalds to become a franchisee and it was rejected,” Parrish said.
That’s when the games really began.
“Then I started calling their office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday," Parrish said. "They were impressed that I had run retail operations. I was able to start a training program in the restaurant, but I also still had a 9 to 5.”
Parrish Restaurants Ltd., which owns and operates 27 restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Then it happened. On June 19, 1989 Parrish opened his first McDonalds in Pleasant Grove. Ironically, he opened the business on what’s known as Juneteenth -- a day celebrating the announcement of the abolition of slavery.
“I was able to find some good students and good people and we were able to go and grow. I got that blue collar work ethic from my parents,” Parrish said. “I never thought I would have this many. The company came to me asking me to buy more. Mine was just let me build a good organization, then other opportunities came up.”
Parrish credits much of his success to consistency and perseverance.
“Someone once told me I’m quietly confident. A diplomatic militant,” Parrish said.
Parrish has been credited with pumping hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue into North Texas.
His work doesn’t stop there.
He opened a medical clinic in Uganda that bears the names of his parents.
He’s silently donated to students in need, to ensure they can afford college.
"I want to help students in any way I can so that they can go to college and realize the American dream. That's what I want for them," Parrish said.
To date, he has donated more than 4,500 bicycles to fifth graders in North Texas.
“The school decides which students get the bike, the helmet and a Bible,” Parrish said.
He’s been donating the bikes for the last 20 years. Parrish as even donated bicycles to officers with the Dallas Police Department.