Robert Pyles: The Audacity of Hope

by Duchess Magazine

Raised by a single mother of nine, now the owner of 12 McDonald’s Restaurants

Successful businessman Robert Pyles is the owner of 12 McDonald’s locations in Wisconsin. He is currently one of Wisconsin’s top employers of African Americans.

In order to supplement his income while serving in the Air Force, Pyles started working in the service industry as a part-time employee at a Wyoming McDonald’s. Since then, he has realized that helping clients is what he actually enjoys doing.

He completed the McDonald’s ownership training program in less than two and half years. Don Thompson, the previous CEO of McDonald’s Corp., had recommended him to do so, so he grasped the opportunity to open a McDonald’s restaurant in Milwaukee.

On February 14, 1998, he opened his first McDonald’s. With all the demands for quick service, he acknowledged that it wasn’t easy at first. But he didn’t have the option of stopping.

Speaking with Black Enterprise, he said, “I told myself ‘never let ’em see you sweat.’ I knew I had to hold true to what I believed.” 

He began with one store, adding a second the next year, and throughout the years, the business grew to include up to 12 locations. Despite this, Pyles believes that growth is not the best measure of business success.

At each location, he has about 45 employees, for a total of 600 people. He tried to make it simpler for his employees to find affordable homes close to their places of employment in addition to providing jobs for the neighborhood.

In collaboration with a friend who owns a construction business, he so founded Magnolia Realty. In close proximity to his McDonald’s restaurants, they purchase foreclosed properties, rebuild them, and then sell them to consumers at a reasonable price.

After an unpalatable upbringing and strives to make a difference, Pyles today has a happy life with his wife and three kids who help him in the business. He also wants to inspire others to succeed by following in his footsteps.

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