If you have ever walked into the Chick-fil-A in Townridge Square, chances are you have seen Terry Butler, the owner/operator. Whether he is conversing with customers in the dining area or discussing customer service with a team member, Butler’s presence is inevitably felt in some way.
According to Casey Rainey, the office administrator under Mr. Butler, “He is an active team member who oversees all aspects of his business.” Mr. Butler himself adds that he would describe his role as that of an ambassador for the Chick-fil-A brand and a member of the community who must give back.
Son of an auto custom interior repair business owner and a school teacher, Butler knew from a young age the importance of a strong work ethic. “[Their] careers gave me insight on the value of education and what hard work would do in shaping and creating my future,” said Butler.
Such insight allowed some clarity for Butler, who realized an interest in business early in life. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur sort, ever since I was 11. I used to cut grass to make money, because I wanted a motorcycle. And…we didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so my mom said, ‘If you want it, you have to earn it.’ So I ended up figuring out how to become a business person at a young age, how to get grass [to cut], and by the time I was 13, I bought my first motorcycle. I had several yards I cut grass on every week…some for almost nothing…but that was a lesson that I learned: to be an entrepreneur, you’re not going to always make money,” said Butler.
With his newfound experience in amateur entrepreneurship, Butler took the opportunity to then gain wisdom from several mentors, learning the pros and cons of the business industry and eventually learning general wisdom about life.
“I had probably 3 or 4 [mentors] in the church; Mr. Earl Jackson was one. I’ll never forget — he must have been 100, and I was only 12,13. He was old. But I used to hang out with him about once a Sunday in church, just sitting next to him. And he asked me one day why did I do that and why I didn’t hang out with the other kids. And I told him I wanted to gain wisdom, and I heard if you hang around wise people, you’ll get some…He laughed it off…but he gave me some advice. He [said,] ‘You have to live, you have to gain experience, you have to gain knowledge and then pray for understanding when the wisdom comes [in order to know] what to do with it,’” said Butler.
Butler took his collective knowledge and utilized it to begin a career in the restaurant industry; he started working at Chick-fil-A his senior year of high school. When a coworker asked what he wanted to do for a career, he replied, ‘I would like to own my own Chick-fil-A.’ Butler then went on to receive a BS in Marketing and Business Management in order to achieve his goal.
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Now that he has achieved his dream of becoming a successful businessman, Butler’s goal is to give back to the community. “I work with several local churches, schools, community organizations and nonprofits on variety of tasks,” said Butler.
Possibly the most interesting thing about the Chick-fil-A owner: every few months, you will find him cleaning up trash on the side of the highway he “adopted.” It is a rather humbling experience to witness. He cleans the side of the highway, and then when all of the work is done, Butler returns to work at the restaurant.
The work that goes into balancing business and community does not scare Butler; it was all his intention in the first place, particularly the highway adoption. “The Adopt-a-Highway program is something that I always wanted to do. I think that it is important to maintain our community on every level. This was not a company based decision,” said Butler.
That is the thing about Mr. Terry Butler: A majority of his work is not necessarily a company decision. His drive to succeed and create a bond with those around him have created the man he is today, a man who has achieved his goals and continues to make new ones.