and Chairman of
Panda Management Company, Inc.
by AC Team's Mario Machado
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is the founder of Panda Management Company Inc., a group of restaurants
which includes Panda Express, one of the fastest-growing Asian cuisine
food chains within the restaurant industry today.
Cherng's innovative combination
of gourmet Mandarin cuisine and a quick-service environment in 1983
was an immediate success. As a result, Panda Express has broadened
its operations from Southern California to 33 states, including
Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico and Japan, with plans for continued
national expansion. The success of Panda Express is due in part
to the founder's desire to be involved in the day to day operations
of each restaurant. There are no plans to offer franchises in the
here for video
I have Andrew Cherng with me, one of the true pioneering entrepreneurs. How
did you get this entrepreneurial spirit? Were you born with it,
or did you see an opportunity and say, "I'm going to do it and learn?
I think depending on whether you come from a good aspect or bad,
I think I was born with it. And I think I have a little too much,
maybe sometimes I feel like I have a disease, you can't get rid
of it. But I think having an urge to be successful and want to do
more in life, that comes from inner desire, and I'm stuck with it.
Mario: Was it a struggle
for you to be successful? Were there points where you were going
to throw it up and say, "To heck with it?" Or did you always have
the goal and knew that you were going to achieve the goal?
think that it is always a struggle, I think that it is always a
personal struggle. And one thing about entrepreneurial, one of the
characters we don't give up, nothing that's worthwhile comes easy,
I don't think. So therefore keep trying, and not to be bothered
by failure and people saying no to you, it certainly happens all
the time. And I think that's where we were able to excel over time.
As you know, you and I have known each other for a long time, we
have been in business for over 27 years, so it's not an overnight
"dotcom" success either. And I think of ourselves as really a company
of learning, if you will. When you grow into a different size, you
have different challenges, and I think the most exciting part in
business is personal learning and personal growth and that's been
Mario: You started out
with one, what do you have now? You have an empire.
own and operate over 360 restaurants. Most of our restaurants, as
you know, is Panda Express. Our flagship restaurants are Panda Inns,
and that's where we got started. And certainly we view us as being
very fortunate that we have a very solid background from a food
and service standpoint. And so it's been a wonderful journey.
Mario: Did you know it
would work from the time you had conceived the concept, or did you
have to tweak it along the way and make mistakes and even come to
the verge of giving it up?
don't think anything works very well without tweaking. Certainly
today people do a lot of research ahead of time, and so once you
find out what the customers want, you start with a rough concept,
still you have to tweak it. In my case, we opened a restaurant,
obviously being very close to one restaurant and only one restaurant,
you spend a lot of time talking with the customers, and finding
out what you are doing good and what you are not doing very well.
And you just keep tweaking it, and I think most customers, everyone,
they want to see you be successful, they want to tell you the things
that they like. That's what I think made us very successful, because
we listen to the customers, we pay attention to the details and
we keep tweaking it. And I think that's been the experience.
Mario: Before you leave
us, talk to the young people and give them advice as to how to be
successful and not to give up, in your own words.
I think in this business or any other business, we get up in the
morning, we have to have passion for making things better. In my
opinion, what you do everyday, if you can make a little bit of difference
in what you do everyday and make things a little bit better, I think
the good result will show and success will follow.
Mario: So it's not just
the high-tech business that there are opportunities, you can take
on a rival or another express chain to take you on, you wouldn't
mind as long as they fought fair?
the hardest battle, believe it or not, is within yourself. A lot
of people stop learning, a lot of people stop improving once they
get to a certain place. I think in today's environment, keep on
learning, keep on earning. You have to keep on improving yourself,
however incremental. I think that the spirit and the culture within
Panda - we have a very strong learning spirit, and that's really
carried us to this level. And I think everyday when you try to grow
more, that's the fundamental power of growth. It's the people, it's
the culture, it's the belief that we are very good and we can do
it and we can get better.
Mario: Thank you Andrew
- End of Transcript -
Express Official Site
of 100 Chairman Henry Tang
of 100 Conference Chair Matt Fong
of 100 Governor and Former Chairman Shirley Young
West Bank Chairman, President and CEO Dominic Ng
of Chris Lee Productions Inc. Chris Lee
Founder of Panda Management Company, Inc. Andrew Cherng