June 20th, 2019
How do you achieve work-life balance when your work IS a family business? How do you thrive when working closely with relatives daily?
Dave Lopez is the youngest of five in a family where every single family member became a part of the McDonald’s system. After gaining experience in various positions throughout that system, Dave earned a position on the executive team at Lopez Foods, an award-winning McDonald’s supplier. Listen as Dave shares his advice on how to grow as siblings and executives as the company evolves, and how excelling at being a family is as important as excelling at business.
Dave Lopez moved into his role as VP Sales and International Sales for Lopez Foods after serving as direct liaison for all export business, as well as taking on roles of General Manager for Doroda Foods and for Lopez Foods. Dave has played key roles in company wide initiatives, include an efficiency enhancement program.
Dave and his wife Stacy have co-chaired the Ronald McDonald House of OKC Red Shoe Gala since 2016. Dave also serves on the Board of Directors for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (2017 to present) and is a member of the Downtown Rotary Club in Oklahoma City. Dave served on the Board for the Latino Community Development agency for a total of three years.
Dave and Stacy live in Edmond and have two daughters, Sabrina and Sophia and their son, Louie.
Finding the Balance
Dave Lopez keeps family purpose in alignment with family entrepreneurship
by Jeff Holler
Dave Lopez is the vice president of sales and international business for Lopez Foods, Inc., and is one of five children in a family where every single member, starting with his parents, became part of the McDonald’s restaurant system in various roles of strategic leadership and business management. But that legacy of productivity in business development doesn’t prevent him from having a purpose driven life with his family outside of work.
If anything, it enhances it.
“We are all in the McFamily, and we have ketchup in our veins,” Dave said. “We are still able to be a strong family unit outside of the business world. Do we swap stories and share ideas? Yeah, but that certainly does not consume our world. We do a nice job as a big family.”
The youngest of his five siblings, Dave was the last one to get involved with the business, but as a young child he worked in McDonald’s restaurants run by his parents, John and Pat, before they entered the supply side of the business with Lopez Foods. “He instilled a good work ethic in us,” Dave sates. “We had this strong sense of what we were doing. That is how we were raised.” While he was in college, whenever he came home for the summer, Dave worked at the Lopez Foods plant, which serves as a leading supplier for the global fast food chain. “I really loved the atmosphere. I loved the people. I loved the difference we were making with the McDonald’s system. I took a lot of pride in that.”
Dave said his father always made it clear that there were opportunities he and his brothers and sisters could pursue on their own instead of working for the family business, and Dave, in fact, did work for a spell away from Lopez Foods, but still within the McDonald’s system. “One thing I’ve learned about business and life is that you are always learning. You are always gaining things. I tend to just say, ‘Let’s go learn it now. Let’s ask some questions and get the answers.’” he said. “You have your ups and downs. You have some high points. You have some learning opportunities. They are all there for a reason.”
After gaining experience in various positions throughout that system, Dave earned a position on the executive team at Lopez Foods, recognized among the top meat companies in the United States and as an industry leader in supplying a variety of protein products to the largest restaurant chains and retailers in the world, including, of course, McDonald’s.
In my next podcast, Dave shares his advice on how to grow as siblings and executives as a company evolves, and about how excelling at being a family is as important as excelling at business. This has been especially true, he said, for him and his brother, John Patrick, as his father began transitioning toward retirement. “He brought us in. He made sure there was a plan in place for us to gain some knowledge and understanding of different aspects of the company, but he didn’t manage us. He stepped back,” Dave said. “He knew all along that his two boys were going to gain much more knowledge of the business than he ever would.” Today, the plan is for Dave and his brother to eventually own the majority of Lopez Foods as other more seasoned executives retire.
Dave offers sage advice for others who are working with family members in their family-owned business. “Having that separation of work and family is important. Sometimes it is easier said than done. You have to learn to shut it off. In my early years I worked a lot, and I enjoyed working hard, but I think it got to me, and I had to really shave out some quality personal time for me and my family.”
He continued, “You can get so wrapped up in what you might define as success. It is so important to take time out for yourself, whether it is reading a book, having an exercise regimen, cooking, going to sporting events, or whatever. Otherwise, you just get too overwhelmed. Everyone has to find their own balance.”
And what is bigger than business for Dave Lopez? It’s not surprising. “My family, without a doubt. It is so fun to see them all grow over the years. If you are overwhelmed at work, it is easy to take it home. If you are having issues at home, it is easy to take it to work. It is a pleasure to have a wonderful family. I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Dave Lopez Podcast Interview – Audio
by Jeff Holler