Jeff and Mary Monfort were operating McDonald’s restaurants out west for some time when a unique opportunity arose for them to open stores in Wapakoneta and Celina in 1995.
That chance has turned into opportunity for many others beyond the thriving business-owning pair that has since opened restaurants in Coldwater and St. Marys as well.
Perhaps the couple’s business motto has been what has led to their success.
“The attitude we like to have is that we like to be in your corner, not on your corner,” Mary Monfort said from the corporate office located on Ohio 703. “We realize that when you are running a business, you can make it a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
That chance to return to the area and operate several chains of the popular American icon restaurant, which Monfort describes as a blessing, has also turned into a blessing for many local charities and other organizations.
“I am from Wapakoneta,” Monfort said. “To return here and serve and work in the town I am from has been a blessing. We feel very humbled.”
The list of organizations that McDonald’s helps each year is certainly too long to name all of them. However, the Monforts have been very active in supporting the Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce. They pitch in with the Wapakoneta Elementary School Ronald McDonald House fundraiser by providing all of the incentives for children in order to make the event a success. The Monforts also provide many special nights at their restaurants where organization members can come in for three hours and work at the restaurant, with a percentage of sales in turn donated to the organization. Many times schools or school-sponsored organizations are the beneficiaries.
“Especially right now, funds are very tight,” Monfort said. “Education is very big to us.”
The Monforts seemed especially proud of the impact the Helping Hands Club has had on youth at Wapakoneta Middle School.
“We are really excited to see students strive to be nominated by their teachers,” Monfort said. “We have had principals and teachers tell us what a difference it makes because everyone wants to be on that club.”
In addition to the many non-profit charities, the Monforts have been supportive of Wapakoneta community get-togethers such as the Plaza Days at the Grand Plaza, Bicycle Safety Day held at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, and the Summer Moon Festival. They also have pledged five years of support to the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum, which has struggled due to state budget cuts.
“We know we cannot exist without the people in the community,” Monfort said. “Like I said before, we simply cannot exist without them. It is very humbling to be in a position where you need the people you are helping. The community always turns out in support of the organizations when we are having an event. Sometimes we have had people standing out the door.”
It is no doubt the Monforts’ kindness to charity has ultimately led to their success in business since they relocated to the area 16 years ago.
Monfort contributed much of their success to the organizations, as well as Bonnie Berry, their marketing and community relations director.
“It is overwhelming how thankful the organizations are,” Berry said. “I think it is what sets us apart. We have a partnership with the community that is a win-win situation.”
The charitable events and sponsorship practices of the Monforts raised enough eyebrows that they were awarded the Wapakoneta Area Business of the Year Award in 2009 by the Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce.
While the number of organizations helped out by the Monforts is simply too many to be named, Berry said the organizations are largely responsible for their success.
“We find it amazing how much the organizations market the event themselves,” Berry said. “There definitely are bigger turnouts because they get the word out.”