The Man Who's Shaking The Golden Arches

Executives at McDonald's Corp. like to boast they have ketchup in their veins. If that's so, Michael R. Quinlan certainly passes the tomato test. A native of Chicago's West Side, the 47-year-old chairman has never worked anyplace but Mickey D's since landing there at 19, while still a philosophy and psychology student at Loyola University. Quinlan's frat brother--whose mother was June Martino, Ray Kroc's secretary and general factotum--got him a job in the mailroom.

The young Quinlan caught the eye of Kroc and then-Chairman Fred L. Turner. Rising fast, Quinlan was running the Washington (D. C.) area, the company's largest, by age 28. He also found time to pick up a Loyola MBA.

By 1980, at 35, Quinlan was named president. After becoming CEO in 1987, he aggressively moved McDonald's into unlikely locales--airports, hospitals, even museums. In 1987, he also introduced prepackaged salads--which now bring in about 7% of restaurant sales.

Former insiders give Quinlan high marks for persuasive powers. Says Daryl Christensen, who worked with Quinlan when he was McDonald's national director of operations: "He's very effective at imbuing the system with his thinking."

Quinlan does the imbuing through a mixture of relentless work and regular-guy horsing around. On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, he quaffed beers with local managers until 3 a.m., then was up for a 7 a.m. meeting. At company picnics, he's a willing victim of pie-throwing contests. And McDonald's Senior Vice-President Richard G. Starmann swears Quinlan "plays a mean game of poker." That's good. He'll have to know when to hold `em and know when to fold `em in the tough times ahead.