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Oak Harbor McDonald's GM tops food chain

Oak Harbor McDonald’s General Manager Bill Arnold was awarded the company’s  Ray Kroc award, which is given to the top 1 percent of general managers in the country. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor McDonald’s General Manager Bill Arnold was awarded the company’s Ray Kroc award, which is given to the top 1 percent of general managers in the country.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

When Bill Arnold got a phone call from his wife asking to greet her at the front counter, the timing wasn’t ideal.

It was just after 11 a.m., which meant the Oak Harbor McDonald’s restaurant would soon be brimming with visitors.

“I was downstairs working on some things,” Arnold said. “She called me up here to take her order. I mean, I love my wife to death, but I was like ‘Can’t someone else do that for you?’ because I was kind of busy.”

Soon there were signs that this wasn’t an ordinary visit.

Arnold, general manager of the restaurant, noticed Barb and Ed Johnson, the franchise owners, walking through the door.

Then he saw familiar faces from the corporate office, then the pastor from his church. Finally, he saw supervisor Annette Kelly and her husband holding up a sign.

“I was like, ‘What is going on?’” Arnold said.

Arnold was being recognized for his dedication and service in 30 years with McDonald’s.

The surprise ceremony happened Dec. 27 when he was honored with the Ray Kroc award, named after the McDonald’s Corporation’s founder.

The performance-based award is given to the company’s top 1 percent of general managers in the country.

“He was kind of in shock,” said his wife, Sherrie Arnold. “The look on his face was priceless.

“He works really hard and he loves McDonald’s. We all do.”

The Arnolds, in fact, met at McDonald’s. They worked together at a McDonald’s restaurant in Lawton, Okla.

On Valentine’s Day, they’ll celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

“She was working the night shift and I was one of the managers,” Bill Arnold recalled. “We met. We had to separate stores once we started seeing each other.”

The Arnolds’ two grown sons also have worked at McDonald’s. Sherrie spent 12 years with the corporation, also rising to the rank of general manager.

“We’re a McFamily,” Bill Arnold said.

The Ray Kroc award is designed to recognize the best store managers in the country. Arnold was one of 142 managers chosen for the award and one of only five in the Northwest region, which is made up of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. He earned a cash award, and he and his wife won a three-day trip to Chicago to attend an awards gala in March.

“It’s a team effort; it’s not just me,” said Bill Arnold, 48, who’s worked at the restaurant on Midway Boulevard for two years but has been a part of the corporation since he was 17. “The whole team helps get the results. It’s based on results of the restaurant, my career, sales, operations, inspection scores, all that kind of stuff.

“It’s not a one-man show. I believe in teamwork. I’m a Christian, and that’s real important to me. I thank God for all the success I’ve had.”

Arnold said he knew that he had been nominated for the award but had no idea what was going on when familiar people began arriving at the restaurant. At first, he thought it might be for an inspection.

Sherrie Arnold said it took her husband about 30 seconds to grasp what was happening.

Kelly called Bill Arnold “the face of McDonald’s,” saying he’s constantly smiling and is very customer-friendly.

She said he was deserving of the award.

“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It’s a really cool thing for a small town.”

 

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