The D.L. Rogers organization was founded by Donald L. Rogers on March 1, 1967, when he opened his first SONIC Drive-In in Eureka, Kansas. This was early in the history of SONIC, and it is believed that the Eureka store was the 19th in the chain. Don was 38 years old. He had previously worked in the oil field industry, but he wanted to be in control of his own destiny. He no longer wanted to work for others. Instead, he wanted to work with others and he instilled this concept of partnership in his new organization. He recognized the importance of providing opportunity through partnership.
Don set out on his personal journey and shared his vision with his new Partners. His philosophy was simple: If you do well, then I do well. He supplied the wisdom and tools to his Partners so they, too, could achieve success. He taught his Partners how to handle money and stressed that it was a tool. He told them that you get paid based upon your contributions, your people skills, and your leadership. Your results are directly tied to your efforts – the harder and smarter you work, the more successful you will be.
The first couple of stores were not home runs right out of the gate. However, Don and his Partners persevered and developed the philosophy of treating each guest like they are your only guest. Outstanding customer service became another founding principle of the business. In addition, Don realized that he was operating a penny-nickel-dime business and knew that you must take care of the small things to ensure success in the long run.
Don established the building blocks on which this company is based, and they are just as relevant today as they were in 1967.
Don's eldest son, Darrell, worked by his side in the family business since the age of 14. Darrell took over the helm in 1983 upon Don's passing. Darrell and his team of valued Partners, Supervisors, and Directors continued to expand the business from 42 stores in 1983 to over 230 stores today.
Darrell never set out to have the largest organization in the SONIC system. From the beginning, the vision has always been to have the very best organization in the entire SONIC system. Partnership is still the key fundamental in this "company of owners" and Darrell's personal goal is simple: Do a little bit better this year then I did last year. The vision of growth through partnership has always been at the forefront and as opportunities arise, they continue to be pursued.
New store growth as always been steady at DLR, but the concept of growing by leaps and bounds came into play when we acquired six stores in Joplin, Missouri on January 1, 2007. This acquisition proved to be so successful that DLR acquired 82 stores from SRI on May 1, 2009. In one fell swoop, we nearly doubled in size as we had 86 stores at that time. Numerous other acquisitions have followed and we continue to pursue any and all opportunities where they make sense. Additionally, we continue to build new stores and relocate old stores to drive sales in our existing communities and provide opportunities for our Partners.
Darrell has always been entrepreneurial and he realized that opening new stores would not be sufficient to stay ahead of the competition. He has always been an innovator and he introduced an expanded ice cream program to SONIC as a way to extend the business day to increase sales and maximize profit. He installed playgrounds and volleyball courts to drive sales and make SONIC a destination spot in each community. Darrell also brought Electronic Message Centers (EMCs) to SONIC after our test in Topeka, Kansas yielded a sales increase in excess of 7%.
These innovations were put in place to increase sales and maximize profits in the quest to be the best in the SONIC system. Darrell has always believed in leaving things in better shape than he found them. Following this philosophy, Darrell and his team are driven to achieve the highest AUV's, profits, sales, and Partner income in the entire SONIC system.
The principle of partnership is just as important today as it was in 1967 and DLR is committed to providing opportunities to everyone in our organization, as this truly is a "company of owners." Darrell is on a personal quest to take DLR from first class to world class, and he realizes that this journey is not about him, but about everyone who contributes on a day to day basis to the success of this organization. We all walk together on the path to success as no one gets there alone.
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