The Great Lakes KFC Franchisee Association was founded in 1975 and incorporated in 1976. Franchisees from throughout the United States had become aware of the strong allegiance that the franchisees in the Southeast Franchisee Association had found through the formation of their regional association. Each Southeast meeting had attendees from other states who were eager to learn from the Southeast's experiences. One of those attendees happened to be Burney Royster.
In 1974 Burney attended the meeting of the Southeast. The National Franchisee Association was now formed, and a main objective was to work through regional associations and strengthen the franchisee family. At the Southeast meeting, the national president pro-tem, Don Hines, appointed members from other regions to spearhead the effort to organize an association from their area. Burney was asked to coordinate the Great Lakes Franchisees.
Burney's letter of February 24, 1975, captures a critical moment in our region's history: "On February 4, 1975, a meeting was held for franchisees in the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan for the purpose of discussing the organizing of a regional franchisee association and to discuss and join the newly formed National Franchisee Association," he wrote. "A total of fifty-four people, representing thirty-four franchisees from the four states, attended. Bobby Helms, then president of the Southeast Franchisee Association, attended and led the discussions concerning regional formation. Don Hines, president pro-tem of the AKFCF, Inc. spoke to the group about the National Association, and the role the national would play to the regional associations."
After a full discussion of all the issues involved, it was unanimously decided to form the Great Lakes KFC Franchisee Association. A steering committee was selected, including Bill Alford, Sr., Bill Bell, Lou Bonasso, Tully Burgess, Tex Coulter, Bill Ellet, Kenny King, Jr., Mary Lewis, Ray Popp, Burney Royster, and Levi Wethington. The steering committee elected Burney Royster to serve as chairman and quickly scheduled its first franchisee meeting for May 6 and 7, 1975, in Columbus, Ohio.
At this first Great Lakes meeting in May 1975, a Board of Directors was appointed along with the first slate of officers.
Over the years the Great Lakes regional boundaries have expanded to include parts of Pennsylvania. Always blessed with great leadership, the Great Lakes region has been proud to have five franchisees serve as president to the AKFCF: William Duncan, Joe Hall, Jack Richards, Fred Bauer and Keith Chambers.
Thanks to those whose energy was spent organizing and growing our franchise association in the Great Lakes, we now enjoy the "franchise family feeling."