Created a comeback

By Published on .

James Cantalupo, McDonald's Corp.'s chairman-CEO who had engineered a stunning turnaround of the company, died of an apparent heart attack in the early morning of April 19 during the company's convention in Orlando, Fla. He was 60.

Known as Jim, Mr. Cantalupo, had spent the earlier 16 months restoring luster to the company's faded Golden Arches. Brought out of retirement in the December 2002 management shakeup following the marketer's first quarterly earnings loss, Mr. Cantalupo returned to the Oak Brook, Ill.-based headquarters Jan. 1, 2003. Within months, he set forth a back-to-basics strategy that included putting the brakes on aggressive store openings, cutting out capital-draining programs, selling non-performing restaurant brands and speeding up healthier product launches. He also green-lighted the company's first two-year global marketing strategy. Since his return, 2.3 million more customers patronize the chain daily and McDonald's shares have nearly doubled in price, numbers sure to please the man who joined McDonald's in 1974 as a controller.

Born on Chicago's South Side, Mr. Cantalupo studied accounting at the University of Illinois-Chicago and began his career at what is now known as Ernst & Young.

In 1981, he became a McDonald's district manager in Chicago and four years later became zone manager for the Northeast. In 1987, Mr. Cantalupo joined the board and was named president of McDonald's International. Within four years, he ascended to president-CEO of the international unit, where he stayed until his retirement in 2002. He served as a two-year president at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Chicago Chapter, and was a member of the board of trustees of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Most Popular
In this article: