Monday, March 1, 2010

Undercover Boss delves into White Castle

     I generally avoid reality shows, so when I heard about CBS's Undercover Boss, there was zero interest for me.  Then I found out that one of the first businesses they would be going inside was White Castle.  My aunt has worked at the home office for pretty much my entire life (I am 26), so of course I got a bit excited.  After all, she knows the owners and head honchos there, and she has sung their praises for years.  I talked to her about it, of course, and she was as pumped up as can be.  So with all of that in mind, I sat down to watch last night's episode.
     I had heard that Dave Rife, the fourth generation owner that went undercover in the episode, was a good guy, but I didn't know the whole story.  As he talked about her personal challenges during the first act, I knew that I was in for a feel good hour of television, if nothing else.  As he began to travel between the various White Castle operations, I was even more impressed.  I could not have kept my cool like he did.  How hard would it be to work hour after hour for a company you own, yet not being able to correct the things done wrong?  I don't know if I could have kept my mouth shut, but he did.
     That's not the only thing that impressed me.  My first instinct after seeing how the supervisor at the plant slacked off would be to fire her.  But Dave didn't.  He called her and one of the ladies that worked under her into his office for a meeting, talked about team work, and then sent them back.  The scroll at the end told about their improvement, and call me naive, but I believe it.  If the head of the company shows you that kind of mercy, you've got to be motivated to step it up.
     But that kind of disfunction was not the norm.  Overall, it appeared that White Castle has some smooth operations going on, and there are a lot of great, motivated people behind it.  Joe, the driver through window worker, or Jose, the want to be chef with the great sauce are why the company works.  My only questions was, why didn't Dave offer to buy Jose's sauce?  It amazed me to see Dave interact with these people and to hear their stories.  Having worked in the food industry myself, I know that it isn't all slacker teenagers, and it's nice to see a positive light shine on those who deserve it.
     I don't know if I'll watch another episode of Undercover Boss, but I know why my aunt is so proud to work for that company.  Clearly, White Castle is run by caring, competent people, and their triumphs in the business are well earned, not a gift.  If you'd like to watch Undercover Boss, it runs on CBS at 9pm on Sundays, with the next new episode coming March 14th.

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