Hospitality | Restaurants
Founder and board chairman
Culver’s | Prairie du Sac
Fresh out of college, Craig Culver got his start in the restaurant business managing a McDonalds. A few years later, he and his parents together purchased an A&W location in Sauk City, operating the restaurant for several years before selling it and buying a supper club. In 1984, the family purchased the A&W property again and renovated the restaurant, adding a blue roof and painting the walls white. That restaurant became the original Culver’s, home of butter burgers and frozen custard.
Culver went on to lead the company from a single restaurant to over 530 locations and $1 billion in revenue until 2015, when he stepped down as CEO. An inflection point for the company under Culver’s leadership came in 1990, when the first successful franchise opened in Baraboo. Franchising proved key to enabling the chain’s spread. The restaurant began multiplying throughout the Midwest in the 1990s and nationally throughout the early 2000s.
Under the leadership of Culver’s successors, the company has continued to grow its presence throughout the U.S., with the chain now boasting more than 850 restaurants in 25 states and employing more than 30,000. Culver remains chairman of the board and the face of the brand. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame in 2016.
Today, the Culver family continues to hold majority ownership of the company.
Education: Bachelor’s, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh