1971 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"I am a firm believer in the free-enterprise system and the benefits of hard work."
Pete Harman was born in 1919 in Granger, Utah. His mother died of pneumonia when he was only two days old, leaving his father with nine children. When Harman was five, his father also died, leaving Pete and his 13 brothers and sisters to be raised by an aunt. "I was raised on a farm," he says, "and each age group had its chores to do." Harman dropped out of school at 15 and worked his way to San Francisco where he got a job as a dishwasher and began to learn the restaurant business.
In 1941, with $15 and an installment loan, Harman and his wife, Arline, bought a 16-seat restaurant in Salt Lake City and called it the Do Drop Inn. Arline ran the restaurant during Harman's World War II service, and by 1952 Pete had struck a franchise deal with Colonel Harland Sanders whom he met at a convention. Harman helped develop the concept of Kentucky Fried Chicken and was the fast food restaurant's first franchisee. He is credited for naming the restaurant chain and for the idea of selling chicken in buckets. Today, he owns 245 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Utah, Colorado, California, and Washington.
Harman is proudest of "the organization I've developed." He says: "We've got great people, wholesome people. We have very few drug problems and we're a big company; we have 5,000 people. It's like were a big family and we help each other out."
Harman is a firm believer in sharing his success with his employees. Store managers who work for Harman can purchase up to 40 percent of the stock in their stores. And all employees, from top management to cooks and sales people, receive an annual year-end bonus based on performance and company profits.
Harman says, "There are more opportunities now. You learn faster. There are computers to do your thinking." A firm believer in the American free enterprise system and the benefits of hard work, he adds, "I'd like to perpetuate our system of ownership. There are just not enough work-oriented people involved in ownership in our free enterprise system.