William (Billy) S. Rosenberg

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William (Billy) S. Rosenberg

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: September 22, 2002 (86)
Mashpee, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Sharon, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States of America
Immediate Family:

Son of Nathan Edward Rosenberg and Phoebe Solomon Rosenberg
Husband of Ann Marie Rosenberg
Ex-husband of Bertha (Bookie) Rosenberg
Father of Private; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Bertha (Betty) Ethel Rosenberg; Leon Marshall Rosenberg and Donald Norman Rosenberg

Managed by: Robert Jay Rich
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William (Billy) S. Rosenberg

Randolph, MA (September 22, 2002) -- William Rosenberg, 86, founder of Dunkin' Donuts, Inc., passed away Friday night at his home on Cape Cod. Rosenberg had successfully overcome several bouts of cancer over the past two decades. He died from complications related to bladder cancer.

A public memorial service will be held at Stanetsky Memorial Chapel, 1668 Beacon Street, Brookline, Massachusetts at 1 PM on Tuesday, September 24. A burial service will follow at Sharon Memorial Park in Sharon, Massachusetts.

William Rosenberg was a natural entrepreneur whose positive attitude, personal intuition and customer focus helped change the business landscape across America and around the world. He has been hailed as a "visionary" by Success magazine and as "the father of franchising as we know it today," by Nation's Restaurant News, whose publisher Alan Gould in 2001 called Rosenberg, "one of the most influential and innovative individuals the foodservice industry has ever known."

Bill Rosenberg embodied the American spirit of hard work and passion. He came of age during the depression and, despite a limited education, his hard work and spirit brought wealth and fame and enabled him to become a philanthropist in his senior years. Rosenberg made a major impact in three different areas: as founder of Dunkin' Donuts, as founder of the International Franchise Association, and as a force in the harness racing industry.

Early Life Bill Rosenberg was born in Boston's Dorchester area on June 10, 1916. He got his first job at age twelve delivering orders for a small grocery store. By fourteen, he had also been a milk delivery boy on a horse-drawn cart, and a telegram runner for Western Union. Bill left school in the eighth grade to work full time in support of his family as the Great Depression took hold of America.

In a series of teenage jobs, Bill Rosenberg learned the value of customer service and innovation. On one occasion, he and some friends drove a car into a packed racetrack on a hot summer day. They had replaced the car's back seat with a giant block of ice. Rosenberg sold ice chips for ten cents a pick, and came home that night with $171, the equivalent of a year's salary during the Depression. By the age of twenty-one, Rosenberg was National Sales Manager for Jack and Jill, a New England ice cream company.

During World War II, Bill Rosenberg helped build war ships at the Hingham Shipyard in Massachusetts. He was elected as a union delegate by the workers for Bethlehem Steel, and also served as a contract coordinator for the company at the shipyard.

When the war ended, Rosenberg cashed in $1,500 in war bonds and borrowed $1,000 from relatives to start a business serving coffee, pastries, and sandwiches to area factory workers. While he originally used indoor pushcarts, Rosenberg thought the business would be more effective on vehicles. Using his ice cream experience with insulated trucks, he had telephone company trucks custom converted with flip-open stainless steel sides and shelving. It was the birth of what we now call the "canteen truck," an idea that eventually became commonplace at construction sites and factory settings across America. Rosenberg called his new company "Industrial Luncheon Service," and a Boston newspaper reporter coined the term "Meals on Wheels" to describe what Rosenberg was doing. By 1949, the company had close to two hundred trucks serving New England and New York, along with twenty-five in-plant cafeterias and a vending division.

Industrial Luncheon Service did something else that was revolutionary- it sold coffee for ten cents a cup, the same price charged at restaurants in top hotels, and twice the typical retail price at the time. Rosenberg was told customers would never pay the higher price, but he proved the naysayers wrong. The revenue enabled Rosenberg to use higher quality coffee beans that customers loved and were willing to pay for. It was a consumer insight that the specialty retail coffee industry was to rediscover...twenty-five years later.

Dunkin' Donuts When Bill Rosenberg realized that forty percent of the revenues of Industrial Luncheon Service were coming from coffee and donuts, he decided to open a stand-alone store. At the time, a typical donut store sold four varieties. Rosenberg, taking a page from Howard Johnson's success with twenty-eight varieties of ice cream, decided to sell fifty-two varieties of donuts, one for each week of the year. He also included two other innovations: seating for customers, and beverages, especially high quality coffee. Bill Rosenberg's first retail shop, called "Open Kettle," opened in Quincy, Massachusetts on Memorial Day weekend in 1948. Two years later he changed the shop's name to Dunkin' Donuts. By 1954, Rosenberg had opened a total of five Dunkin' Donuts shops, with Natick, Somerville, Saugus, and Shrewsbury added to the list. Rosenberg was featured as a young entrepreneur in national publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Coronet magazine. He used the same principles he'd learned as a boy working in retail during the depression: high quality, passion, a positive mental attitude, and a philosophy that "the customer is the boss."

To provide funds for faster growth, Rosenberg made a fateful decision to sell franchises to other businessmen. The first franchised Dunkin' Donuts shop in America opened in the Webster Square area of Worcester, Massachusetts in 1955. In other parts of the country, two of Rosenberg's contemporaries, Ray Kroc and Harland Sanders, were also looking at the franchise concept to grow fledgling companies for hamburgers (McDonalds) and chicken (Kentucky Fried Chicken). The combination of franchise financing and a good idea was powerful and the number of shops began to grow.

Current CEO Jack Shafer says, "One of Bill's smartest moves was the decision to bring his son Bob in to run the business, first as president, and eventually succeeding Bill as CEO." Under Bob's guidance, growth accelerated. Today, Dunkin' Donuts has more than 5,000 shops in 37 countries.

International Franchise Association By 1959, the franchise concept had spread to a variety of industries. At a trade show called, "Start Your Own Business," Bill Rosenberg argued that leaders in franchising needed to band together to set industry-wide standards and educate businesspeople on best practices. Rosenberg collected donations, had colleagues write-up bylaws, and in February 1960, The International Franchise Association (IFA) was born, with membership open to both franchisors and franchisees. Over the years, a number of other franchisors, including Century 21 founder Art Bartlett, have credited Rosenberg for inspiring the birth of their businesses. By 2002, the IFA had grown to 30,000 members in 75 different industries around the world. The group continues to play a key role in franchising, which accounts for almost fifty percent of all retail business done in America and which Bill Rosenberg, IFA's Chairman Emeritus, called, "one of the most dynamic economic factors in the world today."

Harness Racing Bill Rosenberg bought his first horse in 1968 and his New Hampshire-based Wilrose Farm quickly became the number-one stable in New England and one of the premier Standard bred racing stables in the country. Rosenberg's horses competed successfully in harness races on the Grand Circuit of tracks across the United States and Canada, and his farm also became well known for breeding. At its peak, Wilrose Farm had two hundred horses, including thirty racehorses. But the horse racing industry in New England went into a decline in the 1970s. In 1980, Bill Rosenberg donated Wilrose Farm, valued at two million dollars, to the University of New Hampshire, and began keeping his horses at a partner's farm in New Jersey. Fourteen years later, UNH sold the farm and endowed the William Rosenberg Chair in Franchising and Entrepreneurship, the first such faculty position in the university world.

Bill Rosenberg continued to play a major role in horse racing in the United States for several more years. As the nation's eighty-five harness tracks faced problems with declining attendance, Rosenberg in 1983 founded the International Horse Racing Association, convincing one hundred breeders and trainers to donate $1,000 each to start the marketing association. But industry politics left him frustrated, and in 1985 he sold his last horse, Speedy Somolli, for $3.6 million. Nonetheless, he left a lasting impression on the industry, and in 1988 was honored by Harness Horsemen International with its first-ever Achievement Award.

Bill Rosenberg was also a significant philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to a variety of causes. In 1986, his family foundation established the William Rosenberg Chair in Medicine at Harvard Medical School through the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Rosenberg became the first honorary trustee at Dana Farber in 1989. In 1999, Rosenberg's foundation made a major gift to help fund a Vector Laboratory at the Harvard Institute of Human Genetics in Boston.

During his life, Bill Rosenberg successfully battled lung cancer in 1971, lymphoma in 1977, and overcame multiple skin cancers.

Bill Rosenberg is survived by his wife Ann (Miller) Rosenberg, sons Robert Rosenberg of Weston and Donald Rosenberg of Wellesley, daughter Carol Silverstein of Palm Beach Florida, stepdaughter Carolyn Ryan of Mashpee, former wife Bertha (Greenberg) Rosenberg, as well as nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


Bill Rosenberg. With the sales representative Michael Vale (left) during a fiftieth-anniversary celebration for Dunkin' Donuts. Photograph by Angela Rowlings, Boston, 1 March 2000. Courtesy of AP Images.

Rosenberg, William (10 June 1916-20 Sept. 2002), entrepreneur and founder of the Dunkin' Donuts restaurant chain, was born in the Dorchester section of Boston, one of the four children of Nathan and Phoebe Swart Rosenberg, who operated a neighborhood grocery. Growing up in one of only a few Jewish families in the tough, working-class district, as a child Rosenberg was sometimes the target of anti-Semitic verbal abuse and physical attacks. He left school after eighth grade to work in the family business, and after the failure of the business during the Great Depression he found jobs delivering telegrams for Western Union and driving a horse-drawn delivery truck for Hood Dairy. Rosenberg's reputation as a tenacious worker won him a wholesale delivery route with the Jack and Jill Ice Cream Company, a pioneer in the use of refrigeration trucks, vending machine sales, and other innovations. His success in developing new business along the route brought him an office position at Jack and Jill, and Harry Winokur, the company accountant, became a mentor, teaching him formal business methods and facilitating his promotion, at age twenty-one, to national sales manager.

Winokur also introduced Rosenberg to his sister-in-law, Bertha "Bookie" Greenburg, whom Rosenberg married on 29 April 1937. The couple had three children. They separated in the late 1960s and were divorced in April 1978. Rosenberg married Ann Marie Aluisy on 24 June 1978.

American entry into World War II in 1941 created sudden openings in strategic industries, and Rosenberg, who had been forced to live by his wits since childhood, seized an opportunity, signing on at the Hingham Shipyard south of Boston, where naval vessels were under round-the-clock construction to replenish the U.S. fleet, which had suffered heavy losses at Pearl Harbor. In his autobiography Time to Make the Donuts (2001), Rosenberg jokes that although he barely knew how to plug in an appliance when he reported for work, he was randomly assigned as an electrician, to be trained on the job. Obliged to join the United Steelworkers Union, he was elected shop delegate, an experience that helped him develop his abilities to organize and motivate people. He briefly considered a career with the union, but after the war he opted to follow an entrepreneurial inspiration.

Rosenberg had observed the lively business done by lunch-cart owners, who arrived at the shipyard each day to sell lunch and coffee-break items to workers. He believed that he could dominate that business at Hingham and elsewhere by introducing modern accounting and inventory methods and by updating technology, as Jack and Jill had done in the ice cream business. Cashing in his savings and getting loans from the bank and from Winokur, Rosenberg formed the Industrial Luncheon Services Company in 1946. Purchasing prewar repair trucks from the New England Telephone Company, Rosenberg converted them into a fleet of motorized canteens. The design that Rosenberg helped create--a stainless-steel booth built over a small truck-bed, with a horizontal panel on one side that flips up to become an awning over a sales and display counter--remains standard where such vehicles still operate. As the business prospered, Rosenberg purchased his principal food suppliers, gaining beginning-to-end control of the business process.

Dunkin' Donuts

Noting that coffee and donuts were his crucial profit-makers, Rosenberg insisted on using a higher grade of coffee bean than common among competitors, even though this doubled the price of a cup to a dime. He also had his drivers offer customers real cream with their coffee at no extra charge, despite a prevailing belief that such frills were unnecessary to encourage the loyalty of an undiscerning, often captive, clientele. Within two years Rosenberg employed more than two hundred drivers, who fanned out to factories and construction sites across the Boston area each workday. In 1948 Rosenberg opened his first coffee-and-donuts storefront restaurant, the Open Kettle, in suburban Quincy, Massachusetts, renaming it Dunkin' Donuts in 1950. The Quincy location remained a Dunkin' Donuts shop more than half a century later.

Borrowing an idea from Howard Johnson, a fellow Quincy businessman who had created a trademark identity for a national chain of restaurants by offering "28 flavors of Ice Cream," Rosenberg advertised "52 varieties" of donuts. Whereas sellers typically offered no more than five basic donut types--plain, powdered, chocolate-coated, glazed, and red jelly--Dunkin' Donuts donuts came in all manner of flavors, colors, and shapes, filled with a variety of jellies and creams and often adaptable for seasonal promotions. Offering a product line that included items with targeted appeals to both children and adults, both men and women, Rosenberg's demographically diverse mass-marketing strategy was decades ahead of its time. Asked which of the donuts was his personal favorite, Rosenberg told the Boston Business Journal, "They're like our kids; I love them all."

After opening his sixth Dunkin' Donuts in 1955, Rosenberg decided that further expansion would be accomplished through the selling of franchises. Not a new idea in the mid-1950s, franchising was plagued by a history of criminal abuses and tangles of lawsuits and countersuits over the rights of sellers and buyers. Believing that the franchise system combined the advantages of modern corporate management and promotion techniques with the local know-how and personal incentives of small-business ownership, Rosenberg gathered the support of like-minded entrepreneurs at the 1959 Start Your Own Business convention in Chicago by circulating a handwritten set of bylaws for a new trade organization he proposed, the International Franchise Association (IFA). The association was officially launched in 1960.

"Franchising," Rosenberg claimed, "supports the great American dream of allowing multitudes to own and succeed in their own businesses." The IFA emerged as the voice of the franchising industry, effectively rehabilitating franchising's public image by standardizing contract language, creating a code of ethics for members, and lobbying for appropriate legislation in states where the practice was unduly constrained or, in some cases, illegal. Growing to a membership exceeding thirty thousand, the IFA facilitated a period of unprecedented growth for the practice. By the turn of the twenty-first century, franchised businesses came to account for approximately half of all retail sales in the United States.

The number of Dunkin' Donuts shops spiraled upward under the franchise system, reaching 100 in 1963, 300 in 1968, and 1,000 in 1979. The first location outside North America was opened in Japan in 1970. To ensure consistency in quality and to meet customer expectations shaped by centralized advertising, Rosenberg created Dunkin' Donuts University in 1966, a Quincy training base for all new franchisees. In 1968 Rosenberg took the company public against the advice of Harry Winokur, who sold his interest in Dunkin' Donuts and founded Mister Donut, a rival chain. The public stock offering of Dunkin' Donuts exceeded Wall Street expectations, bringing Rosenberg to a new level of personal wealth.

Rosenberg handed over day-to-day operation of the company to his son Robert--who had earned an M.B.A. degree at Harvard--to enjoy his new role as elder statesman of the donut empire, representing the company at industry and public events, giving motivational talks to new franchise holders, and making unannounced visits to far-flung locations to make sure that unsold donuts were discarded after five hours and that other obligations of the franchise agreement were strictly followed.

Recreations and Philanthropy

During the 1970s Rosenberg was diagnosed with diabetes, and he fought successful battles with lung cancer and lymphatic cancer. Regaining his health against the odds, he turned his attention increasingly to harness racing, which had long been a favorite pastime. Acquiring Wilrose Farm, a breeding stable in East Kingston, New Hampshire, Rosenberg successfully reinvented himself, producing several champions. He worked to improve the public image of harness racing, serving as chair and trustee of the New Hampshire Standardbred Breeders and Owners Development Agency and cofounder of the International Horse Racing Association. In 1988 the Harness Horsemen International presented Rosenberg with its first lifetime achievement award.

In 1990 the British firm Allied Lyons (now Allied Domecq) acquired Dunkin' Donuts, retaining Rosenberg as chair emeritus. The new owner restructured the company into Dunkin' Brands, reinvigorating the restaurants with new product lines and adding complementary businesses to the fold, including Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream and Togo Sandwiches. Thriving at the center of a market that includes upscale Starbucks and common-touch Krispy Kreme Donuts, the business that Rosenberg founded grew into a worldwide chain of more than seven thousand Dunkin' Donuts outlets in thirty-two countries, with worldwide sales approaching $5 billion. In 1999 the company claimed to have served its 8 billionth cup of coffee since its founding in 1950.

Rosenberg adopted the University of New Hampshire as a favorite beneficiary of his philanthropy, donating Wilrose Farm to the school in 1980. The university, in turn, sold the property in 1994 and established the William Rosenberg Chair in Franchising and Entrepreneurship. The William Rosenberg International Center of Franchising at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics of the University of New Hampshire was endowed with his bequest in 2002. Rosenberg also donated his papers and personal effects to the university library. The Rosenberg family foundation endowed a professorship in his name at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Harvard Medical School in 1988. Rosenberg died at his Cape Cod vacation home in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Rosenberg's life adheres so closely to a nineteenth-century tale of American rags-to-riches success that it would hardly make for convincing fiction in the twenty-first century. With no advantages but the will to test his creativity in the rough-and-tumble of the marketplace, Rosenberg founded a formidable and durable business empire, sent a son to Harvard, achieved notoriety as patron of a horse farm, and left his name on faculty positions at two New England universities. That he fueled this great leap through history and tradition on the calories of inexpensive pastries and the need for a good cup of coffee will surprise only those unfamiliar with American history.


Bibliography

Time to Make the Donuts, a 2001 autobiography written with Jessica Brilliant Keener, offers a sense of Rosenberg's personality and values. An archive of Rosenberg's papers and effects is held in the Milne Special Collections of the University of New Hampshire Library in Durham. It contains business and personal correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, and photographs. A narrative biography and a collection of digital images are available at http://wsbe2.unh.edu/william-rosenberg-center-international-franchi..., the Web site of the Rosenberg International Center of Franchising at the university's Whittemore School of Business and Economics. Informative obituaries are in the New York Times, 23 Sept. 2002, and the Independent (London), 24 Sept. 2002.

David Marc


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1,1356::23208

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@R-1548461395@ Massachusetts Death Index, 1970-2003 Ancestry.com Ancestry.com Operations Inc 1,7457::0

GEDCOM Source

1,7457::3565524

GEDCOM Source

@R-1548461395@ U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 Ancestry.com Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 1,2469::0

GEDCOM Source

1,2469::508947961

GEDCOM Source

@R-1548461395@ U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 Ancestry.com Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 1,2469::0

GEDCOM Source

1,2469::10037178

GEDCOM Source

@R-1548461395@ Ancestry Family Trees Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.

GEDCOM Source

Ancestry Family Tree http://trees.ancestry.com/pt/AMTCitationRedir.aspx?tid=39798951&pid...

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William (Billy) S. Rosenberg's Timeline

1916
June 10, 1916
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
1920
1920
Age 3
Boston Ward 21, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
2002
September 20, 2002
Age 86
Sharon, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
September 22, 2002
Age 86
Mashpee, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States