Former CEO and WG Grad Visits Alma Mater

Former Student Provides Perspective to Classes

Mr. Puzder

Mr. Puzder

Have you ever heard of or eaten at the fast food restaurants, Hardee’s and/or Carl’s Jr.? If you haven’t, then you might want to search up the closest one to you! Earlier this school year, the previous CEO of these chain restaurants (and West Geauga Alumnus), Mr.  Andrew F. Puzder, paid West G. a visit to discuss capitalism and some other topics with our AP students.

Mr. Puzder has always enjoyed history and politics, branching from his early days at West Geauga, where he was one of the first students. He said that he was intrigued by these subjects his entire life, but, more specifically, his interest was spiked by the, “…1960 election,”  between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. He mentioned that he always admired people who had a passion for the law and for justice.

After West Geauga, he studied at Kent State University for a time before leaving to perform in bands and play guitar. He later went on to earn his BA/History at Cleveland State University, followed by his JD at Washington University School of Law. He built up his work ethic by doing jobs like busting concrete with a jackhammer in blazing heat and being a trial lawyer—which he said was easily his favorite. “Being a CEO is easier,” he then added with a laugh.

Ironically enough, he never intended to be the CEO of CKE Restaurants. In fact, he expected to either sell it away or take it down the road to bankruptcy. With hard work, however, he was able to build the business back up to where it is now, that being premium quality burgers made from scratch.

He is currently retired and takes part in activities like fishing, writing books (“Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It”) with David Newton, and being published as recently as 2018. He is also busy, occasionally writing opinions and editorials for Fox News.

Mr. Puzder is married and the father of 6 children. When asked to mention something about his memory of West Geauga, he spoke fondly of his high school career. He reflected on how broad an education he received at West Geauga. This, he noted, was, “…much better than that [in] California,” where his children attended school.

He went on to discuss how one of his favorite memories was graduation in 1968, and that he is still friends with many of the people he knew at West G. Later, he went on to mention that nothing much has changed about the town, except, “…restaurants, and the houses don’t look as fresh. But the weather is still the same.”

He did have one bit of parting advice to leave for the West Geauga students to consider for years to come. “The government doesn’t control you; only you do. Always keep moving forward.”