Brian Swanagan of Lehigh Acres began working for McDonald's in Michigan flipping hamburgers, cooking fish and dessert pot pies. Today, he is the general manager of the McDonald's restaurant on Homestead Rd.
Swanagan, who is 56, has been chosen to receive the Ray Kroc Award, an annual performance-based award that recognizes the top performing McDonald's restaurant managers in the country.
Named after McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc, the award was established 13 year ago in 1999 to honor hardworking restaurant managers - those who make Ray Kroc's vision of excellence come to life in restaurants and for customers each day.
Brian Swanagan, general manager of the McDonald’s on Homestead Road, with employees, from left to right, Kailonni Ferguson, Maria Animas, and Regina Christiansen.
Swanagan, a familiar figure at the Lehigh McDonald's, has done every job at the fast food restaurant business since he started as a young man in Michigan. He also worked in Seattle, Wash., and now Lehigh.
He and his wife moved to Lehigh seven years ago when he took over the local fast food restaurant, which is owned by Darlene Tregunno, who has three stores.
"We are truly proud to have Brian as part of our McDonald's family and commend him on this truly amazing accolade," Tregunno said.
A 40-year veteran of McDonald's, he has worked for the fast food restaurant in Lehigh since 2006. He enjoys participating in the restaurant's community activities including hosting McTeacher's Nights to raise funds for local schools and serving breakfast to families and volunteers at the local Ronald McDonald House annually.
Swanagan said he has worked every restaurant position that McDonald's offers while working his way up to general manager.
"So receiving the Ray Kroc Award is a huge honor for me," Swanagan said. "I'm lucky to love where I work every day. I manage a terrific crew and we're all thankful for the customers that we serve."
He and his wife have two grown children. A daughter is a dentist and a son is graduating from college. Both attended the University of
Washington. A step-child is a third grader and goes to a Lehigh elementary school.
McDonald's in Lehigh hires around 125 full and part-time employees and all of them live in the Lehigh area. The long list of employees is due to the restaurant being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Anytime you want to come here or go through the drive-thru, we are here to serve you," Swanagan said.
He said he has worked with employees from age 16 to 90 and has always had a good relationship with his employees. And over the years, he can't remember how many employees he has hired when you count Michigan, the state of Washington and now Lehigh Acres.
"Oh the number is way up there, more than hundreds, probably," he said.
When asked why he wanted to work for McDonald's, Swanagan said he enjoyed the people he meats and the fact that they serve good food.
"It's always fresh and we pride ourselves in the clean restaurant that we have here," he said.
He works more than 40 hours, but tries to keep it at around 50 and does his best to take off two days a week.
Swanagan can be seen doing almost anything needed today. If an employee is filling an order, and someone steps up to the restaurant, you are more than likely to see Brian Swanagan. If the French fry cooker needs more potatoes in it, you might see him filling in there.
"Whatever is needed is what I do. I have a great group of people working here and it is a privilege to have them," he said.
McDonald's in Lehigh Acres is one of the top five such restaurants in all of Florida and is one restaurant of 58 just in Southwest Florida,
Winners of the Ray Kroc Award run high-performing, profitable restaurants that meet McDonald's critical customer standards of quality, service and cleanliness, top company officials said
These restaurants have strong business d and achieve superior results in restaurant operations, people management and building the business. As a recognized leader in the restaurant business, these managers develop a restaurant team, focused on ensuring customers get a fast, accurate and friendly experience every visit, company officials said.
Nominations for the Ray Kroc Award recognizing general managers for their hard work, dedication and commitment to McDonald's come from owners/operators and/or regional staff nominee restaurant managers.
From there. a selection committee of representatives from McDonald's Operations, Training and Human Resources select the top 1 percent of McDonald's restaurant managers for the Ray Kroc Award.