74: Wisdom from a 72-store Wendy’s franchisee – How to choose the right career path with  Jim Furman, Sr.


Jim Furman got his start in the fast-food business in the mid-1970s when he joined his brother Richard and a friend, Robert Frist, in buying into what was then a start-up hamburger chain called Wendy’s.  Today Furman’s company, Tar Heel Capital Corp., has 72 restaurants.  Furman’s franchise has been honored with every major award the Wendy’s corporation gives including the Wendy Award, the Founder’s Award, Hall of Fame and the Jim Near Legacy Award.

A former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and a pharmacist by trade, Furman came to North Carolina in 1965 to manage the local drug store in Boone.  His brother Lowell had settled in the area and was the only surgeon in Watauga County.  Furman maintains his pharmacy license today and is active in Boone Drug Co, a local chain of 18 drug stores, while acting as chief executive officer of Tar Heel Capital.

Jim is active in his church and in the community but shies away from the spotlight, preferring to do good quietly without any recognition.  He has taken more than one cross-country trips, including one to Alaska on a motorcycle with his brother Richard and friend Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse.  He’s a long-time member of the Board of Directors of Samaritan’s Purse and a member of the Board of Visitors of Charleston Southern University in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Since 1998, Furman has been on the Wingate University Board of Trustees, serving as chairman of the board for one year.  He was instrumental when the University decided in the early 2000s to start a pharmacy school.

Furman and his wife Dolores live in Boone.  They have four children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

(Wendy’s photo courtesy of webpronews.com.)

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • [5:05] How did you get where you are in your career today?: Mother required him to work when very young, Sunday school teacher in high school got him a job at local pharmacy, after graduating pharmacy school served three years in Navy, came to Boone, got involved in Wendy’s.
  • [7:20] Worst moment of career: Went from counting days to get out of Navy to becoming one of the best officers in department. Low point was the conviction that he just wasn’t living up to his potential.
  • [8:40] Lesson to be learned from previous question: We can accomplish many things if we put our minds to it and if we work hard and trust in God. Need to do all to the glory of God.
  • [10:12] Biggest weakness as a business owner: Very particular and OCD-like (too obsessed with the details).
  • [11:02] How did you hedge against that weakness: He has learned to rely on other people to take care of the small details. Had to learn to let go of the small details and trust others so he could focus on bigger details.
  • [17:20] Time in life that you were confused about career path; if so, when and how did the smoke clear: Wasn’t sure whether to stay in retail or go into another field in pharmacy; past college professor helped him realize that he was best suited where he was at that point. Lesson: rely on the wise counsel of others.
  • [20:45] Time in life when God directed you down a path that you didn’t want to go on, what happened and what lessons learned: Not accepted as a medical officer in Navy. Unsure whether to take a job in pharmacy or try something different with Navy. Was accepted as a line officer. Lesson: not to act hastily, to trust in God, submit to God.
  • [24:46] Personal habit that has contributed to success: Daily devotion, prayer, and Bible reading.
  • [25:40] One book to recommend and why: the Bible; always the best management book on how to deal with people, always has answers and is always the truth. Gives a Bible at orientation of new managers. Focuses on servant hood of Christ.

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imgRobbie Romeiser is a commercial real estate broker, real estate instructor, and author of the daily devotional Today’s Quote From God (www.TodaysQuoteFromGod.com). Desiring to help his own children follow God’s calling in their lives, Robbie founded Career Callings (www.CareerCallings.net) to help people find, prepare for, and pursue the work God has called them to do. To have Robbie speak at your church, business, professional association, or civic club, please email Robbie at robbie@careercallings.net.