Culver’s co-founder emphasizes personal values

Even though there were no actual Butterburgers at the event, Culver’s co-founder Craig Culver talked about entrepreneurship and the spirit behind the company.

Culver grew up in the restaurant business when his parents bought an A&W shack in Wisconsin in the 60s.

According to Culver, he wanted nothing to do with the restaurant business at first.

“I didn’t have a clue what my dream was,” he said.

After managing a McDonald’s for several years and owning a series of different restaurants, Culver finally bought back the same A&W shack his parent’s owned years before and made it into the first Culver’s restaurant.

Its signature menu items included Butterburgers and frozen custard, which were inspired by classic drive-ins and diners in Wisconsin.

“I’m actually from Wisconsin, so Culver’s was my home stomping ground in high school, so it was kind of nice hearing about the backstory of how is started,” Allison Laurent, a junior marketing and management and leadership double major, said.

According to Culver, the first year was a huge struggle. Customers were flocking to the business’ competitors, and it barely managed to break even by the second year.

“You ever throw a party and nobody came?” Culver asked.

However, Culver said it was hard work and a dedication to quality that allowed the restaurant to grow into a franchise with over 568 locations in 22 states.

He said what really puts Culver’s above all others is the way employees take care of guests, create a memorable experience and refuse to skimp on quality ingredients.

“It truly is about the people,” he said. “I don’t care what kind of business you’re in, whether you’re a lawyer or an academic, a carpenter, whatever. As long as you’ve got the right people, people that give a darn, people that care about making the business.”

Culver said having people who are passionate and committed to the business are the true reasons why they succeed.

“As he was talking about the people first, friendly heart, everything like that, I know probably a dozen people who worked at Culver’s through high school, so I know for a fact that it’s instilled in their training,” Laurent said.