After achieving success as a top lawyer with a 2013 Rising Star award from Super Lawyers magazine and serving as senior attorney and director of diversity for Miller Canfield, Detroiter Joni Thrower returned to operations in the family’s McDonald’s business and added another accomplishment to her resume – the Ray Kroc Award.
Named for Ray Kroc, McDonald’s co-founder, the award recognizes the top one percent of McDonald’s restaurant managers from around the world. Culled from a pool of more than 36,500 locations, the award ceremonies will be held on April 13, at the Ray Kroc Awards Gala in Orlando, Fla.
Thrower manages the McDonald’s restaurant at Detroit Metro Airport McNamara Terminal and, while the career path might seem unorthodox, Thrower has been involved with McDonald’s for more than two decades.
Her parents, Jim and Marla Thrower opened their first restaurant on Mack and I-75 in 1989. They instilled a work ethic that meant after school activities involved doing homework in the McDonald’s lobby and helping to wipe down tables.
While her siblings went into the family business, Thrower pursued law, but kept close ties.
“When I was at University of Michigan, I was commuting back and forth and managing the restaurant on Mack and 75,” Thrower said. “I took a step back and when I got to my law firm, it was more to handle the administrative and legal aspect of the business. That’s how I wore a bigger hat.”
After the University of Michigan, Thrower earned her Juris Doctor in law from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Ga. She returned to Detroit and received the “big law firm life experience” from Miller Canfield. The “master plan,” she said, was to use this to assist her parents with the family business.
This would include reviewing bank documents and any other legal issues that might come up, such as deployment, labor, or real estate issues. And if it fell outside of her expertise, Thrower enlisted help from her colleagues.
“I was always involved within the family business while I was at my firm,” she said.
McDonald’s owner-operators and regional management nominate restaurant managers for the Ray Kroc Awards to recognize their hard work, dedication, and commitment to McDonald’s and its customers.
The Detroit Metro Airport McNamara Terminal McDonald’s is a “high-volume” restaurant, so Thrower views the Ray Kroc award as a team effort.
“To me, it speaks to the strong team that I put together at the McNamara restaurant,” Thrower said. “We are a team…there is no ‘I.’ If we give our customers great service with a smile. If we impress our customers with our hospitality, they’re more likely to return back to us.”