Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 11, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Truett Cathy is raising quite a few eyebrows in the business world. Since 1946, he's been putting faith, good old- fashioned values, and people ahead of profits. One big rule: never, ever, ever work on Sundays. Now say what you will, he's got an incredibly loyal band of employees, and 34 straight years of sales increases. A new book called Eat More Chikin, Inspire More People details the success of his fast food company, Chick-fil-A. Joining me now from Atlanta, Truett Cathy.

Mr. Cathy thanks for coming.

TRUETT CATHY, FOUNDER, CHICK-FIL-A: Yes. Thanks for the invite.

CAVUTO: It's interesting. But you have long believed that you don't work on Sundays, huh?

CATHY: Well, Sunday to me has been a very important day, and I started off in the restaurant business, 57 years ago, and then we closed on Sunday. And we've carried that through ever since that time. We have over a thousand units, 1050 units now, and all close on Sunday. I find it's very important to be consistent in your convictions. And when you do that, you don't have any problem, people realize in talking with shopping center developers, import it to them, you generate all of the sales you possibly can. But we have proven the fact that we can meet our competition and probably excel our competition even though our sales are predicated on six days where theirs is seven days.

CAVUTO: It's true. In fact, on per store basis, you do better in six days than they do in seven days. In fact, your business continues to soar. But I have got to wonder, Mr. Cathy, whether some green-eyeshade investment adviser years back said, look, you could get a lot more money and make a lot more money doing business on Sundays?

CATHY: Yes. Well, I have had competition say, you would generate 20 percent more sales if you just opened on Sunday. I said, well, I don't feel like I lose any sales. I feel that we have been blessed because of the fact we close on Sunday. Again it helps attract the caliber of people who appreciate having Sunday off, whether you go to church or synagogue or not, Sunday is the most enjoyable day to have off because that's when most of your friends are off. So it is helpful to attract a lot of outstanding young people as well as adults.

CAVUTO: You put great stock, don't you Mr. Cathy, in actually interviewing the 16-year-olds and older who work for you, that this isn't some sort of a passive exercise for you, you really want to get to know them. Why is that important?

CATHY: Well, it is important because a lot of our young people work because they have to work, others work because they like to work. And in addition to that, about 40 percent of our leadership has come from young people who work for us, Chick-fil-A, one of those 15, 16 years old. For some it is the only job they have ever had. So they don't know about the real world.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you about your workers in general. Are they all so religious as you, or do they pray in some of the stores, as some of your managers have advocated? and do you run into any troubles? I know there was one Muslim who was, I guess, presently suing you right now. Can you tell me the status on that?

CATHY: Yes. Well, I'm not sure but we never have deviated. We say that you don't have to be a Christian to work at Chick-fil-A. But we would ask you to make your business decisions on biblical principals simply because biblical principals do work. And so we do not discriminate as far as religion is concerned. It is unimportant to me what they are. Because we have people working for us of various faith. And we honor that.

CAVUTO: I talk to some CEOs all of the time, Mr. Cathy, they say you can't be a nice guy in this business. It's a rough world, you have to be tough. What do you say?

CATHY: Well, I think the opposite. I think the kinder you are to your people, the more productive they will be and the more customers you will be able to attract. I think I kind of look upon being in the restaurant business as a divine calling where you are able to serve in the necessity of life which is food. And also I find a lot of people go out to eat when they are not even hungry, they are just looking for a pleasant experience, and think that we have that to hand them. But I see no conflict between being honest and working hard, that it won't pay dividends for you.

CAVUTO: Truett Cathy, I thank you very much. It is nice to know you can do some good things and still make some good money.

CATHY: Well, you're kind to invite me.

CAVUTO: Thank you, sir, Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A.

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