The Late James R. CantalupoCEO – McDonald’s

Published on April 2, 2004

Tragically, we sometimes realize the valuable contributions of others in death vs. life. On Monday, April 19th, 2004, James R. Cantalupo, CEO of McDonald’s, died of a massive heart attack just before the opening of the annual McDonald’s convention in Orlando, FL.

Mr. Cantalupo came out of retirement in January 2003 after McDonald’s posted its first quarterly loss since it became a publicly traded company. In 16 short months, James Cantalupo implemented a strategy that turned around McDonald’s earnings and put him into the upper echelon of CEO’s who truly have made a difference for their company and community.

These changes were significant and worthy of blazing new frontiers. McDonald’s, known for its fast food, decided to do away with its highly successful trademark Super Size® promotion. Responding to the well documented spread of obesity in America, McDonald’s silenced it’s critics and jumped on the bandwagon of healthy eating. Another significant change addressing the obesity issues was the first ever Adult Happy Meal, consisting of salad, bottled water and a pedometer.

Of course, Mr. Cantalupo initiated other changes such as selling off non-performing assets. Most importantly, James Cantalupo showed true leadership by acting as a visionary, thinking outside of the box and shifting his company so that it better aligned itself with the needs and wants of today’s market. Making these decisions was risky, but James intuitively knew that this was the direction his company had to take.

The results speak for themselves. The leader spoke up and addressed his company and market needs. And now, James R. Cantalupo’s legacy will continue to speak for many years to come.

James R. Canatlupo, our Titan Profile of the month, thank you for showing us how the right leader can bring refreshing ideas to a company that has been around for a long time and produce staggering results. Your legacy proves there is room for improvement in all of us.