Dick’s leads by example

All politics and pickles aside, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon is correct when he says “Dick’s Drive-In is the type of corporate partner we like to see … We need more Dick’s Drive-Ins.”

As reported everywhere in the Puget Sound region, the iconic Seattle burger franchise of five locations is going to add a new drive-in and asked the public to vote on where it should be located. Passionate fans flocked to the online poll, crashing it, and greasier ones hacked the system, hoping to stuff the ballot the new-fashioned way.

Dick’s wants to stay within a 20-mile radius of the University of Washington. The three general areas under consideration are South (West Seattle, south Seattle, Renton, Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila), East (Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Bothell, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Sammamish) and North (Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds, south Everett).

(Could the best location be mathematically determined, like a leftover WASL math word problem? If Dick’s wants its new drive-in to be within a 20-mile radius of the UW, and the over/under on the Husky-BYU game is 56.5, find the center and the radius of the circle by completing the square, keeping in mind the citizens of Snohomish County want Dick’s the most. Show your work.)

Here’s the real deal about Dick’s and why, in addition to cheeseburgers and chocolate malts, someone might cheat to land them: Since 1954, they’ve run a smart business, as measured by profit, loyal customers and loyal employees.

Washington’s minimum wage is $8.55 an hour, the highest in the nation. In 2005, Dick’s starting pay was $8.50 an hour, with merit raises to more than $10, and fully paid medical benefits, even for part-timers, according to the Seattle Times. The 2005 article looked at two Seattle companies that are wildly successful despite treating employees better than Wall Street believes is possible and still remaining profitable — Dick’s and Costco. Dick’s also offers employees child-care assistance and college scholarships of up to $18,000 per employee (more than $1 million in scholarships to date.) The company donates to charity and its co-founder and son, Dick and Jim Spady, are well known for their civic and political involvement. (Such supporters of higher education would be a great addition to the Snohomish- County-needs-a-university bandwagon…)

Businesses like Dick’s are invaluable because they lead by example. Back in 1954, banks didn’t want to lend to the guy who wanted to sell hamburgers for 19 cents and Spady was told his idea “wouldn’t work.”

He showed them otherwise.

And so it is we make our humble, oniony breath request: A Dick’s Drive-In for Snohomish County, please.