Women of the B.E. 100s

A look at how women CEOs arte running some of today's largest black-owned DK: businesses

received a $10,000 contribution earlier this year from GM. To date, almost $20,000 has been raised by the foundation to support a number of community projects including academic scholarships.

Between the recently completed expansion projects and the move toward Internet sales, Ross is certain the business she and her husband started will thrive. “Bob has good machinery in place here. So our efforts have been at maintaining the excellent customer service that we’ve historically provided. So far that’s been working,” she says. “He would be proud of the way the business has survived.”

Valerie Daniels-Carter
Founder, President and CEO of V&J Foods Inc.
Glance at Valerie DanielsCarter’s resume too swiftly, and you might assume she’d inexplicably fallen on hard times. How else to explain a dramatic career shift that finds the former banker and financial analyst flipping all-beef patties behind a flaming hot grill at Burger King?

Well, the transition isn’t alarming when you own the Burger King. And if on rare occasions you find DanielsCarter behind that grill, it’s only because she likes having hands-on experience in every aspect of her business. As president and CEO of Milwaukee-based V&J Holding Companies, DanielsCarter is the leading African American woman fast-food franchiser in the country.

Daniels-Carter says the transition from finance to franchising was in the cards for her all along. Receiving a B.A. in business administration from Lincoln University in 1978, Daniels-Carter joined First Wisconsin National Bank as a management trainee and worked for several years as a commercial and retail lender. In 1981, she became an auditor in the underwriting division for MGIC Investment
Corp. in Milwaukee and appeared set to make her mark in banking.

Instead, in 1984 she made a leap of faith, leaving a steady career with banker’s hours for a life in franchising. Her gamble paid off in a big way. DanielsCarter started V&J Foods with her brother, John Daniels Jr., who today is a financial partner in the company. She oversees administrative functions at V&J, all the while keeping an eye out for additional expansion and development opportunities. But whether she’s attending franchisee meetings with corporate bigwigs or working on new promotional items for her restaurants, Daniels-Carter has made customer service the signature mark of all her franchises. And her company’s motto is “YATSE” (You Are The Standard of Excellence).

“I try to get each person that works for me to realize this company is only as good as each individual,” she says. “The key for me is to instill in them a pride in their work and recognition of a level of excellence in themselves that maybe they weren’t aware of.”

Rodney Henderson, a manager for one of Daniels-Carter’s Milwaukee restaurants since 1987, describes her as both a sympathetic and concerned employer. “I’ve seen other managers come to Valerie distressed over personal problems, and she’ll take time out of her day to console or counsel them. She’s been an employee, so she has a lot of empathy for the people that work for her,” Henderson says. He says she also gives her

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