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Ollie Lund, you deserve a celebration today

Last month, at the site of the first McDonald's franchise in Portland he helped found in 1960 at the corner of Northeast 122nd and Glisan Street, Mid-county resident and entrepreneur Oliver “Ollie” Lund was honored for 50 years of service


An observance of 50 years of service to McDonald's was held last month for Argay resident Ollie Lund, who opened McDonald's store number 117 in 1960. There are now over 33,000 stores worldwide.
The first Portland McDonald's on its opening day Feb. 26, 1960.
Those were the days (1960s), my friend, and these prices have ended; a hamburger, french fries and milkshake for under a dollar.
Lund tells his story to a television news crew during the party held last month at the McDonald's he helped found more than 50 years ago on Northeast 122nd Avenue and Glisan Street.
Ronald McDonald was also on hand to honor Lund.
McDonald's through the years
• 1955: Ray Kroc opens first McDonald's on April 15 in Des Plaines, Ill.
• 1960: First McDonald's in Pacific Northwest opened February 26 by group of Navy men from Michigan's Great Lakes area.
• 1965: Ollie Lund graduates from Hamburger University.
• 1966: McDonald's is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
• 1973: The Egg McMuffin and Quarter Pounder are added to the menu.
• 1979: First Happy Meal catering to children is developed.
• 1984: 50 billionth hamburger is sold to fast-food pioneer Dick McDonald.
• 1990: McDonald's opens in Moscow after 14 years of negotiation with seven different leaders of the Soviet Union.
• 2003: First global ad campaign, “I'm loving it,” is launched in Munich, Germany.
• 2008: After a restaurant is established in Latin America the number of McDonald's worldwide comes to 31,377.
• 2010: Ollie Lund is honored in Portland for 50 years of service with McDonald's.
Golden arches, the Big Mac and Ronald McDonald are well-known icons of the most popular fast food chain in the world. Less familiar to the masses is Ollie Lund, one of the founders of the first McDonald's in the Pacific Northwest.

Lund, a longtime resident of Northeast Portland, was honored April 8 by McDonald's for his 50 years of dedication to the company.

In his office, surrounded by half a century of McDonald's paraphernalia, Lund recalls first hearing of the now familiar burger joint “One shipmate saw a McDonald's and came back and told everyone at the Navy control center,” Lund remembered. “He said there was such a long line that he thought they were passing out $10 gold pieces.”

To Lund and his Navy colleagues, selling hamburgers for 15 cents was great idea, because it was a price everybody could afford.

“Every one of us had grown up in the Depression era,” he said. “My family would buy 50-pound bags of flour and (once they were empty) my mom would dye the bags and make a dress.”

Originally from Michigan, Lund and eight of his Navy friends approached Ray Kroc, McDonald's founder, with the idea to open a McDonald's in Portland. Kroc supported the group and the nine sailors went into business soon after.

The store opened at 551 N.E. 122nd Ave. on Feb. 26, 1960, under the company Careers, Incorporated, thus named because all of the men were looking for a second occupation after 20 years in the Navy.

The store was number 117 for the McDonald's Corporation, and was a resounding success. Though, like all new businesses, the restaurant had its struggles.

“We had a mortgage of $5,000 every month,” Lund said.

He described his luck of winning a Porsche years ago in a radio contest as a “godsend,” because by selling the car he was able to make the store's mortgage payment.

Careers, Inc. opened four more McDonald's, and in 1974 Lund broke from the group to open his own stores as Owl Enterprises. He went on to open stores in Jantzen Beach, Sandy, Tanasbourne, Cherry Park and two stores in Gresham.

Lund's idea to have stores in the outlying areas of Portland was ahead of its time.

“I was told by bankers when I selected the site in Tanasbourne, 'Why would you want to go out there, there's nobody out there?' In 1982 Tanasbourne was out in the boonies,” Lund said.

The rest is McDonald's history. In the time Lund has been with the company, McDonald's has gone from having a few hundred stores to well over 33,000 worldwide.

Lund calculates that he has had 14,303 employees over his 50 years. For many of these people, Lund was instrumental is helping further their careers within the McDonald's company.

Four of those employees were Lund's daughters, who all put in time behind the counter at one of their father's stores. Daughter Sheryl Burgess continued in the family business and opened her first store in 1994. Burgess now works alongside dad at Owl Enterprises. Burgess said working with her father is like having a library of information about McDonald's right next to her.

Though Burgess said she was hesitant as a teenager to work in one of her dad's McDonald's, she now is thankful for the experience.

“I'm thrilled that I was pushed, I have the best father in the world,” she said.

Success agreed with Lund and his various business partners, as the Portland metro area grew up around his stores.

Lund said it well when he was quoted in 1977 for Kroc's book “Grinding it Out: The Making of McDonald's,” “ 'I guess,' Ollie Lund says, 'McDonald's has been the making of all of us.' ”

Lund said he originally planned on retiring 10 years ago, and in 1998 started selling off his stores. However, he soon realized he wasn't ready to stop working.

“I quickly found out that one store wasn't enough for me,” he said.

As Lund's 82nd birthday approaches this month, he still remains active in his business and in the Rotary Club of Northeast Portland.

Lund's name resides in the McDonald's Hall of Fame for his years of service and for his dedication to the local Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington. His stores also sponsor local sports teams and clubs.

Both Lund and Burgess said when they started out with the company they could “never have imagined” what McDonald's has become today.

Lund said the new frontier for McDonald's is China.

“With a population of 1.3 billion, China is probably capable of handling 24,000 stores,” he said.

Though McDonald's food has been a big hit in Asia, Western customs will take some getting used to, he said.

Lund said when the first stores were established in China people would go through the drive-thru to order, but then come inside to eat their food.

He said in all countries and areas where McDonald's exists, a lot of thought goes into the products.

“McDonald's is always going to work with the people,” Lund said.

Last month the father-daughter team represented their stores at the McDonald's Corporation Worldwide Owner Operator Convention in Orlando, Fla.

Lund has observed the company's changing leadership and growth throughout the years.

“I don't think there are many more senior than I with the company now,” he said.

Lund said after 50 years he still eats regularly at McDonald's and cites the Big N' Tasty burger as a personal favorite. He also takes pride in the company's high standards of quality service and its emphasis on innovation.

All in all, Lund said he is happy with how he's spent the last several decades.

“It's kind of nice to look back and know you made the right decision,” he said.
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