Ernie Adair, chairman and CEO of National Black McDonald’s Operators Association

stands as a monument to the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association, the largest African American business association with $2.7 billion in sales.

The restaurant celebrated its grand reopening in January with renovations including a mural featuring images of the first black owner, Herman Petty; the founders of the NBMOA, including Don Thompson–McDonald’s USA’s first black president; and the current owner, Yolanda Travis.

Ernie Adair, chairman and CEO of NBMOA and owner of nine McDonald’s franchises, elaborates on the strategies and four pillars of commitment that have kept NBMOA members prosperous and the McDonald’s corporation diverse.

Are black-owned McDonald’s franchises increasing?

The number of black franchises is at an all-time high. We have more than 300 throughout the U.S. Our goal is to always maintain a 12% representation or higher to mirror the U.S. black population base. We are right on par and continuing to increase.

What strategies has the NBMOA used to become one of the leading organizations of black business owners?

Our success is measured according to our four strategic pillars 1) eligibility for growth; 2) cash flow improvement; 3) wealth building; 4) and community involvement.

It is important that we maximize our units so our cash flows match or are better than the cash flows of general market owners. When an owner does not grow [his or] her balance sheet, then [he or] she isn’t eligible to grow and open a new unit. We encourage owners to take a piece of what they make and reinvest it in their restaurants and also into wealth building.

How does community involvement play a role?

If you take money out, you definitely want to put money back into the community. Last year the NBMOA gave out about $50,000 in scholarships. We are donating $100,000 this year through the United Negro College Fund.

How does the association advocate on behalf of individual owners?

In most cases, by involving ourselves and helping each other; we can almost always find the solution. If the owner has exhausted all resources and the problem still exists, we will help balance that owner’s portfolio by requesting that McDonald’s offer them an opportunity in a location that doesn’t have that problem.