Greenville, N.C., May 23, 2019: Wade Dixon’s earliest childhood memories of McDonald’s stretch back to before he could even see over the restaurant counter. His father, Jerry Dixon, opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1970 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, when his son was only five-years-old. This moment established the company that would become Dixon’s legacy, and his son’s future: Dixon Foods Group (DFG).
“I can still remember getting to go behind the counter of my dad’s restaurant and thinking how cool it was,” said Dixon, local owner/operator and President of DFG. “Ever since then, McDonald’s has been a blessing to our family, and it’s gone on nearly 50 years now.”
Dixon has come a long way from the little boy, who watched his father build a successful business. June 7, 2019, will mark 30 years since Dixon first became an owner operator at just 24-years-old. Over the span of three decades, his McDonald’s restaurants have grown to 28 locations stretching across Eastern North Carolina, including Greenville, Winterville, Farmville, Ayden, Goldsboro, Kinston, Mt. Olive, Snow Hill, Jacksonville and Richlands.
Despite the decades of growth and success, Dixon says it’s the 1,800-plus people who make up his business that have brought him where he is today. “A lot of our employees have been with us 20 plus years,” said Dixon. “We’ve grown up together in a lot of ways – witnessed each other become parents, grandparents, married couples. We’ve been there for each other through the good and the bad – experiencing life together.”
Since 1989, Dixon has had the opportunity to watch McDonald’s evolve, and thus, change with it. By the end of this year, Dixon will have opened 26 “Experience of the Future” restaurant, McDonald’s $6 billion investment in restaurant redesign. When Dixon started his career as an owner/operator, the restaurant’s menu was only a fraction of what it is today and many of his restaurants are now open 24 hours. Dixon even remembers when his restaurants were basically cash only. Technology has become a huge part of daily operations and beyond, with McDonald’s launching an app and even delivery service through Uber Eats.
Aside from the Golden Arches, Dixon has devoted himself to the communities where his restaurants operate. From Greenville to Snow Hill, and Jacksonville to Kinston, Dixon and DFG have supported events, organizations, local school districts, military families and even the Mount Olive Pickle Festival.
One of Dixon’s greatest passions is Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina, in which he serves as the Vice President of the state board, as well as Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina. This charity provides families with ill or injured children a place to call home, as they receive live-saving care at local hospitals.
“For me, it’s about helping making a difference and the desire to care for others in their darkest times,” said Dixon. “I feel honored that my faith has called on me, my family and business to take these steps and help enrich the lives of others, in the communities that we serve.”
Dixon hopes this example is something his family and three daughters can look up to. “I hope I have taught my girls you should be friendly to people, respect others, operate with integrity, excellence and service – basically, FRIES,” he said. FRIES is the acronym for the core values that DFG follows every day: Friendliness, Respect, Integrity, Excellence, Service.
Looking back at the last three decades, Dixon said he wouldn’t change a thing. He’s come to learn through life’s experiences. His biggest takeaways: “You don’t have to have all the answers yourself. You’ll learn more from others if you allow yourself to. People are much more important to your success than anything else.”
About Dixon Foods Group
Dixon Foods Group (DFG) has been in operation as a McDonald’s franchisee since April 14, 1970. In the last 48 years, it has methodically expanded from base operations in Wilson to more than 28 restaurants throughout Eastern North Carolina. For more information, follow DFG on Facebook,Instagram, Twitteror visit the website.