Hardworking McDonald's franchisee is living the American dream.
“I’m always telling others about Commerce. No matter what I need, the service is consistently excellent. They know how to take care of their customers. They can compete with anyone.”
— Victor Rivera
Three core principles have guided Victor Rivera throughout his personal and professional life.
“First, I believe you must be passionate about what you do, or don’t do it,” he says. Second, loyalty matters. “If you don’t want to work for me, that’s okay. Just say so and pick the door you want to leave by,” he adds.
But the thing Rivera values most is integrity. “I was raised to do what’s right when no one is looking,” he explains.
Those values were already well-embedded in Rivera when he and his Spanish-speaking family moved to Kansas City in 2002. Over the previous 16 years, Rivera had been rising through the ranks of McDonald's Corporation in San Juan, Puerto Rico as he improved the performance of restaurants across the island.
He returned to the mainland U.S.—where he had been born and raised—to become McDonald's ambassador to the Kansas City Hispanic community. “My job was to go out into the community and teach people how navigate the McDonalds organization and build a career here,” he explains.
Upon his arrival, however, he had more immediate concerns, such as opening a new bank account. With $10,000 in his pocket, he visited a number of Kansas City financial institutions.
“The people I talked with didn’t seem know that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.,” he recalls. “They didn’t know we all use the same currency.”
When he visited Commerce Bank, however, he got a different reception. “Commerce took my cash and opened an account.” It was an experience Rivera never forgot.
Several additional promotions later, he relocated his family to Columbus, Ohio, where the self-professed workaholic would eventually be named Director of Operations, overseeing 619 McDonald's restaurants.
By the mid-2010s Rivera was beginning to think about the next chapter in his career. “I knew I wanted to be a McDonald's operator,” he says. But not just ANY operator. “I wanted to run top-performing restaurants,” he explains. “I wanted to have the best-paid staff. I wanted to help make other people successful.”
On December 1, 2016, Rivera resigned his corporate position at McDonald's and prepared to purchase his first two franchises in Carmel, Indiana.
To finance the acquisitions, he contacted a number of banks on McDonald's approved list of lenders. The result wasn’t what he expected.
“Some banks told me ‘no’, others drug their feet or didn’t get back to me,” he recalls. “Even with a large down payment, they apparently expected me to have two years of operating experience before making me a loan.”
Feeling frustrated, Rivera remembered his relationship with Commerce, which had refinanced his home loan and remained his personal bank. His accountant, however, wasn’t sure if Commerce was on McDonald’s list of approved lenders.
Rivera called his Commerce banker. “I told him that I was buying restaurants,” Rivera recalls.
His banker then did his homework, Rivera recalls. “By the time he was finished, he was more educated than me,” he says. “He knew the demographics and understood the opportunity I had been given. I knew the stores had potential, and I was thankful that he validated that for me.”
A week and a half later, Commerce approved the loan.
With financing from Commerce, Rivera added a third McDonald's 12 months later. Today he has five stores and 362 employees.
Commerce continues to be his bank of choice and go-to source for financing, operating accounts and corporate credit cards. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, Commerce also helped Rivera navigate the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) process.
“Commerce is great, 100% dependable,” he says. “The bankers I work with are humble, hardworking and share my values.
“Commerce remembers the guy from Puerto Rico who walked through their door 16 years earlier,” he adds. “They knew my history.”
Rivera says Commerce’s approach to business reminds him of how he operates his McDonald's.
“Like Commerce, I know how to run a financially viable business,” Rivera says. “I go into my stores every day and just blend in. My customers think I’m an employee. For me, it’s all about the operations, the customer and my desire to be number one.”
“I’m living the American dream,” he adds. “But you have to share the wealth. You have to give to receive.”
Also see:Ensuring a Better Community.
Distributing Success Despite Uncertainty.