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Windom McDonald's manager to receive award

WINDOM -- As a group of men shared stories at a corner table over morning coffee, a line had formed at the counter for orders of Value Meals or hotcakes. Behind the scenes, McDonald's manager Jeff Hauglid moved from station to station to see that orders were being filled.

It seemed like a typical Monday morning for the 30-something-year-old Hauglid who, in just two short months, will be honored with the highest award attainable for any McDonald's manager. He is among the top 1 percent -- roughly one of 150 managers nationwide -- chosen as a recipient of the 2005 Ray Kroc award. The award is named after the founder of McDonald's.

In addition to getting a trophy and pin, Hauglid will receive $2,500 in cash and attend an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago in March for the awards ceremony.

Hauglid's career with McDonald's began as a mere freshman in high school. The Fairmont native went to work for their local franchise, and continued there throughout his high school and college years.

"I started as a crew person at age 16," he said. When he began classes at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Hauglid built a class schedule between Monday and Thursday so he could return to Fairmont and work shifts Friday through Sunday.

Even after college, he hadn't really thought about another career.

"It's all I've ever known -- it's all I've ever done," said Hauglid. "I just liked the business and working at the different stations, whether it was up front with the people or back in the grill."

He left McDonald's in Fairmont in June 1995 for a post as first assistant manager of the McDonald's in Windom. Both restaurants, in addition to the McDonald's in Blue Earth, are owned by the same individual.

By July 2001, Hauglid had advanced to manager of the Windom McDonald's, and has since led the restaurant to two outstanding store awards, two outstanding drive-thru awards, three outstanding manager awards and a People Champion award.

Though the honors are nice, Hauglid said he is simply doing his job.

"It's not going to work and saying, 'I'm going to win that Ray Kroc award,'" Hauglid said. "It's every day, all day long, providing the best service to our customers."

Still, he admits, earning the Ray Kroc award is "kind of hard to put into words."

"It's the most prestigious award you can get," he said. "It's kind of humbling."

Hauglid is the fourth manager within the three-restaurant group to earn the Ray Kroc award. Rick Clerc, who now serves as area supervisor, earned the award while employed in the Windom McDonald's in 2001; John Tietje earned the title in Blue Earth in 2003; and Brenda Fellerson was honored from the Fairmont McDonald's in 2004.

As Windom's McDonald's manager, Hauglid is on call all hours of the day and night. The restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Hauglid puts in about 50 hours in an average week -- some weeks considerably more and some weeks less, he added.

With a current staff of 56 -- it grows to about 65 during the summer -- Hauglid said it is the employees who make it easy for him to come into work day after day.

"I think a lot of it is the people we have working for us," he said. "We've always had very good employees."

Hauglid said the community has also been real supportive of McDonald's, and the franchise, in return, is supportive of Windom. Hauglid is in his second year as chairman of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, and said that the restaurant is often called upon to assist local organizations and groups with fund raising activities.

So, what does a nearly 20-year veteran of McDonald's confess to be his favorite menu item? It's the crispy club sandwich -- one of the more recent additions to McDonald's line of sandwiches.

"I've been eating those for lunch almost every day," said Hauglid with a smile.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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