Yum! In The News
How Kevin Falconer manages development for the world’s largest pizza company and a city of a 125,000-plus residents
Published on July 21, 2020
In June 2020, Carrollton, Texas, residents marched for Black Lives Matter. Many people spoke, including Mayor Kevin Falconer, who called for — not just words — but action. The following Monday, Falconer logged into a Microsoft Teams call to address how Pizza Hut U.S. would reopen its restaurants now that COVID-19 restrictions were starting to lift. Normally, city mayors don’t weigh in on corporate strategies, but since 2017, Falconer has held two jobs, one as the Carrollton mayor and the other, as an architect for the world’s largest pizza brand.
“When I won the election, my Pizza Hut coworkers said, ‘Congrats on your new job; we're going to miss you!’” Falconer said. “People misunderstand that many times, a mayor’s position is not a full-time, paid position. So I was like, ‘Miss me? This job doesn't pay; I'm not leaving.’”
And he hasn’t. For the past three years, Falconer has managed the design and construction of Pizza Huts across the U.S. while simultaneously spurring economic growth and assisting immigrant families in Carrollton.
“God gave me a servant’s heart,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m fulfilled if I’m not serving in some capacity — and boredom would drive me insane. Most of my life, I’ve helped coach my girls’ soccer and volleyball teams, volunteered at our church, those sort of things. The good news for me is I’m an empty nester, so that allows me to focus on my job at Pizza Hut and my work in the community as mayor.”
At his core, Falconer is a problem solver. When he opened his water bill in 1995 and read, “Are you interested in serving your city?” he signed up to join the Construction Advisory and Appeals Board. That first act of public service led to several years of joining Carrollton boards and commissions, eventually landing on city council. And when Pizza Hut U.S. shifted its focus to delivery seven years ago, Falconer left his job at Chili’s Bar & Grill to solve the problem, nervously admitting to his soon-to-be boss, Al Litchenburg, that he served on Carrollton’s council.
“I remember Kevin had a great interview, and then he brought up the fact that he also served on Carrollton’s City Council and would I be OK with that,” said the chief development officer. “Kevin’s smile grew wide when I revealed that I was on the board of trustees for my community’s school district. I told him that at Yum! and Pizza Hut, we encourage community service.”
Still, Falconer says his No. 1 job is pizza. He’s proudest of being able to mentor his “very bright” Pizza Hut team and watching them grow into their own as leaders. In fact, that team has been integral in Pizza Hut’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as Falconer volunteered to lead the brand’s COVID-19 Safety Initiatives squad, made up of about 30 people across functions who acted quickly to address the medical crisis, securing masks for their workers.
“When Pizza Hut was first looking at masks, the city of Carrollton already had a supply for our first responders,” he said. “Now, everyone knows what a N95 mask is, but back then, it wasn’t common. Fortunately, my city educated me on the N95s early on, so I made sure that when Pizza Hut requested masks, we weren’t infringing on first responders’ supply.”
Now that cities are starting to reopen businesses, Falconer’s two jobs are dovetailing again as he’s securing hand sanitizers for his 800 city employees and Pizza Hut restaurants. “I guess that’s my next problem to solve,” he admits.
And he’ll solve it while working as Carrollton mayor, provided he is reelected in November, as his term was supposed to end in May, but the city pushed elections back due to the pandemic. One accomplishment he’ll remind constituents of is how he provided objective leadership through difficult issues, like the current human rights movement.
“I am a privileged white male,” Falconer said. “In my mind, that puts a greater responsibility on me to enact change. What many people want is for people like me to recognize there's a problem — and a true recognition — not just lip service. I believe most people are problem solvers, so let’s find the solutions.”
Falconer will find them both for Carrollton and Pizza Hut.
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