Bloomberg recently featured a tasty story on America’s youngest female billionaire. She’s a woman after my own stomach: Lynsi Torres, the 30-yr old owner and president of In-N-Out.
Yeah, as I say here often, I’m a big In-N-Out fan. Whenever I fly out west to Arizona or California (3-4 times a year, my first and last stops are to In-N-Out for a double-double, animal style, with well-done fries and a neapolitan shake.
I’ve been interested in the company’s Christian roots ever since my first bite back in 2008, when I noticed Bible verse references on the bottom of In-N-Out cups and wrappers.
But I didn’t really know much of the In-N-Out story until I read the Bloomberg story about Torres. Her grandfather, Harry Snyder, founded the company in 1948 in California and it has grown to be worth $1.1 billion today.
After grandpa Harry died in 1976, her uncle Rich became president of the company and expanded the chain from 18 to 93 locations. After Rich died in a 1993 plane crash at age 41, Torres’ father Guy became president and expanded the chain to 140 locations.
He died of a prescription drug overdose at age 49 in 1999, and Torres’ grandmother Esther (founder Harry’s widow) maintained control of In-N-Out until her death in 2006 at age 86.
When Esther died, Torres was the sole family heir. At age 24.
Company ownership then passed to a trust, which gave Torres half-ownership when she turned 30 last year.
The entire company will be hers at age 35.
I’m trying to wrap my mind around what it would be like to be 30 years old and be given control – basically out of the blue – of a $1.1 billion company like In-N-Out.
A company that’s been in your family for over 60 years but you basically haven’t ever been involved in before.
Personally, I think I’d find it to be incredibly exciting and challenging. But I think I’d also feel a huge weight of responsibility not to mess it up and hurt all the employees and customers who have come to depend on the company.
Some are speculating that Torres might be looking to cash out and sell the company as soon as she assumes full control in five years. Perhaps using the proceeds to fuel her love for racing, as she and her husband are drag racers.
According to Bloomberg, Warren Buffett may be one of the first suitors in line to buy the company. Which I think speaks to the strength of the company today and its prospects for growth in the future.
What would you do if you became an overnight burger billionaire? Would you take charge, learn all you can, and seek to grow the company under your leadership? Would you keep the company but let management run the day-to-day? Or would you cash it all in and never look back?
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