General Manager, Augusta
General Manager, Augusta
While some general managers may consider McDonald’s their second home, not many can also say that literally. James Watson not only considers the restaurant his second home, he can literally see his home from the restaurant. It wasn’t a coincidence either, he planned it that way decades ago when he started at the McDonald’s in Augusta.
McDonald’s was his first job at the age of 16 in Columbia, MO, but it wasn’t the job that he thought he would keep coming back to after all these years.
From 1975 to 1979, James served in the Marines. There he packed parachutes and dropped out of 32 airplanes to help his fellow servicemen get to the ground faster by adding his own weight to them as they were falling.
“It took four seconds to fall 400 feet,” James said. “These guys were very nice to me, since I was helping them.”
It was post-Vietnam, so James didn’t go to war, but he knew he owed it to his country to serve, having come from a military family who served in WW2. After his service, he got married and worked in aircraft and oil fields and was laid off from both positions. That’s when James came back to the service industry, and worked for Braum’s in El Dorado for 6 years before finding his way back to McDonald’s.
James has been the General Manager in Augusta for two decades, and he doesn’t have any regrets because McDonald’s has always been good to him.
“I worked in Arkansas City and on South Hydraulic before moving to Augusta,” James said. “There was a flood in Augusta 21 years ago, and the restaurant had to be remodeled. I remember Robert saying, ‘This building is a Ferrari, don’t drive it like a Volkswagen.”
Every time James walks in the back door of the restaurant, he says he doesn’t know if love is the right word, but he has always felt at home. Today, James said it is the people — on both sides of the counter — that keep him young. He even works one night shift a week.
“Why go anywhere else? This is my home,” James said. “Two to three places have opened around us, but it doesn’t matter what they do, because if I am doing my job, it won’t make a difference. I am grateful to be here in Augusta.”
That said, James is training a few individuals in the restaurant to take his spot someday. Although he still says, I am the only person I know is going to be here tomorrow.”
James has built a life outside of McDoanld’s too. He has four children and 12 grandchildren. His advice to them is the same as to future general managers.
“If you’re going to do something, do it right, James said. “Always take care of customers.”