“Like father, like son” is a true and tested phrase that never gets old and aptly describes the business journey of local McDonald’s restaurant owner Jim Thrower.
His father, a mechanic who owned a gas station, and mother, a snack shop owner, taught him at a tender age the requisite knowledge and skills to be a successful and self-made entrepreneur. Whether it was helping out at his family’s church, pitching in at his father’s gas station or selling goods at his mother’s shop, Thrower has carried these early lessons with him throughout his life.
“My entire life has always been about servicing the people,” he said.
But Thrower, a former Detroit Lions defensive back, held many different roles before arriving at his current destination as a McDonald’s franchisee.
“I worked for organizations like Stroh Brewery and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company and held several other positions in corporate America,” he recalls. “And in the 1980s I proudly served under Dr. Benjamin Hooks for the national office of the NAACP in New York.”
Though these career stints provided Thrower with years of happiness, he knew a long-held dream would go unfulfilled until he became a business owner like his mother and father before him. It was Michigan McDonald’s owner William Pickard who helped lead Thrower to a career with the quick-service restaurant giant.
Since becoming a McDonald’s restaurant owner 22 years ago, Thrower has left an indelible mark on the Detroit-area McDonald’s business community and across the country. He is currently vice chairman of McDonald’s national advertising committee and the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners, proud steward of Oak Grove A.M.E Church and faithful member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, all while operating seven McDonald’s restaurants in metro Detroit with his family.
Thrower’s children also work to continue the family’s legacy of entrepreneurship and community service. All of his children have business ties to McDonald’s. Sons Jamar and James are restaurant owners along with Thrower’s wife, Marla. And daughters Joni and Marissa each contribute to the McDonald’s business through the realms of legal advice and store management.
Thrower knows he played an integral role in his children’s career paths. He hopes his family’s relationship with McDonald’s will last for generations.
“It’s a blessed opportunity to me for my children to choose to follow my path. It’s an honor and privilege,” he said.
And he takes pride in knowing that his children not only followed his path but also follow his life’s philosophy.
Treating others with respect, being humble and appreciative, and making sure to work harder every day are the guiding principles of Thrower’s life.
The key to success in business, Thrower says, is having “G.A.M.E,” which stands for gathering information, analyzing that information, making a decision and executing that decision in the best way possible.
But his formula for success in life is simple.
“Family is the ultimate support system,” Thrower said. “Without family, Jim Thrower the professional football player, the lobbyist for Michigan Consolidated Gas, entrepreneur and father would not exist, or wouldn’t be as happy.”