By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

Father and son duo Ron and Chris Smith, who lead the FRSCO Corporation (FRSCO), opened their 17th McDonald’s franchise in Las Vegas on Feb. 11, making them the second largest owner and operator in the Las Vegas area. 

The grand opening event had traffic backed up, as the first 200 cars in the drive-thru received a voucher to secure one free Big Mac or Egg McMuffin every week for up to a year. 

“When you start at the bottom of the ladder, you’re always looking up saying, ‘OK, not there yet.’ But, every rung that you’re able to achieve is one step closer, and I’m not even sure that I’ve reached the top yet,” said father and business-extraordinaire, Ron Smith. “I don’t know what the top is, but I’m always trying to improve, take advantage of opportunities as they come along and do the best I can.”

Smith, a former U.S. Air Force serviceman, knew from a young age he wanted to become an entrepreneur. He eventually landed on franchising and decided to choose McDonald’s because it was the number one franchise organization in the world. 

He opened his first McDonald’s in 1996 under Lipscomb-Smith Enterprises, Inc. after splitting with his wife, who doubled as his business partner. Smith established FRSCO to manage his franchises. 

Today, FRSCO employs more than 850 people, and the corporation’s restaurants generate over $75 million in annual revenues. 

Ron and Chris are also the only African-American father-son team who manage multiple McDonald’s franchises in Las Vegas. 

“When all of this first began for me, I was penetrating a market, an industry, a country that was going through some major changes with regard to integration,” said Smith. “That, I think, was the biggest challenge, being able to keep my cool with the misunderstandings of the changes that were taking place in the world.” 

Eventually, Smith will pass the business down to his son, Chris, who has already completed McDonald’s Next Generation Training program. While working with his father, Chris said the most important thing he’s learned has been perseverance. 

“Perseverance and the commitment to succeeding no matter what has stayed with me throughout any challenges that I’ve ever had in my life,” said Chris Smith. 

“I’ve definitely seen both my parents go through amazing times and some not so great times with business and market conditions. Being able to see them weather through– that has been the best thing that I’ve gotten out of them.”

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.