Herman Cain was an Inspiration to Me…
The following is a note posted on Facebook, by Cliff Dammer regarding Herman Cain.
Cliff had the opportunity of meeting and getting to know Herman Cain when Cain was involved with Burger King.
Herman Cain made huge impression on Cliff Dammer and Cliff shares the history below
…. May 29th of this year, 2011, a Sunday, as my wife and I enjoyed a nice Sunday Brunch in our living room, of course I prepared it. (Usually some kind of scrambled egg concoction containing everything left over from the week) I tuned the TV around the channels to see what was on. I am usually all up to date with political stuff and we ended up hitting C-Span channel and low and behold I see it is a POTUS announcement for Herman Cain. I immediately looked at my wife of 33 years and she was glued to the TV at the same time she was saying…“look! Its Herman!” I nearly dropped my plate! I had heard chatter regarding his being interested, but unlike most Americans who had never heard of him, I had!
I had worked for a Burger King Franchisee in South Dakota all through High School and after Graduation. I married my wife the year she graduated in 1978 . I was already a Restaurant Manager in Watertown, S.D. and on my own. We bought a house and a new car the same day in March ’79 and started our life together. We stayed in Watertown until ’82 and moved back to Sioux Falls.
I opened a new ‘flagship’ restaurant in the summer of ’82 and was very much interested in working for Burger King Corporation after a falling out with my Franchisee and I really think that being the fair man he was, he actually encouraged me to go to work for Burger King Corp. and see how far I could go with them. I have always deep down been very grateful to that Man for giving me the opportunity.
In Nov.’82 I moved to Milwaukee, my wife stayed in Sioux Falls because we had a home and she had work and I really wanted to see what it was all about. I was given an inner-city restaurant after spending one month at the bussiest Burger King Restaurant in the Area, right off I 43 at Green Bay Road and Capital Drive.
I was overwhelmed by the culture SHOCK! I was a South Dakota boy, 24 years old and in the middle of the ghetto of Milwaukee! The first night I worked there at 3am in the morning with a line 3 blocks long in the drive thru, after the bars closed. I actually had one customer shoot another customers car in the drive thru lane because the guy fell asleep! That is just the way things are there I was told, forget about it.
My wife moved out there about 6 months later and I was making some headway. I remember specifically my District Manager, Joe Langteau, telling me that we were going to have a visit from an ‘AWESOME” guy named Herman Cain! Joe was just’ ‘giddy’ like a girl, not anxious or worried, just kinda happy and excited. Not at all what you would expect from your boss who was having HIS boss coming.
Normally anyone would be shaking! Well Joe knew Herman from his days in Minneapolis and he knew Herman Cain well. He already knew what I would soon find out ,and that was that Herman was different! Herman Cain wasn’t there to just observe but to “SERVE”! The day came when Herman came to town, I knew about what time that would be, and of course it was gonna be very busy.
Unbeknownst to me, Herman had been to my restaurant several times before I got there in the past year and was very concerned about it! I was just trying my hardest to get it cleaned, organized, fixed, equipment and otherwise, and get it staffed and getting it up to the MO (manual of operating data) standards.
I remember looking up and saying, “Hi, welcome to Burger King How can I help you”? I was met by the biggest smile and most hearty handshake I had ever been given in my life. He said ” Cliff Dammer?” I said “yes”. He said” I am Herman Cain and I am most pleased to make your acquaintance”.
I thought where is Joe? Where is Joe? Then I saw him standing and smiling at me in the corner with the biggest grin. Joe had told me that Herman was unlike anyone I had met with Pillsbury or BKC, but he never told me he was black. It made no difference to me! I had grown up with Kenny Anderson Jr. as my best friend, and I never saw color ever. Blacks were no different than me, my dad taught me all of that. I admired Kenny Sr. like he was my own dad. He became City Councilor of Sioux Falls when there were maybe 200 blacks in all of Sioux Falls.
I was mesmerized by Herman Cain. He was gracious , he asked questions that really made sense , he offered his suggestions and gave me praise where it was deserved. He also told me exactly what he expected and wrote it down for me. He gave me his phone # and told me to call him any time about ANYTHING, and he spelled anything out for me. Actually A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G! He said that he would do everything it took to make me, successful! I had to catch my breath after he left!
Over the next 6 months I received weekly phone calls and additional visits as Herman was in charge of my area as well as an area in Minneapolis! But Herman was an ‘ALL STAR’ to BKC and Pillsbury headed up by Jeff Campbell. With Herman’s help and the help of others I was able to achieve alot with BKC and eventually the Milwaukee area was flipped from the lose category to profitability over the next 3 years and then was sold to Franchisees at a huge profit to Pillsbury. I was made an offer to move to Kansas City during the restructuring and turning around of that market for essentially the same thing that was done in Milwaukee. The worst restaurant group region that BKC had was in Philadelphia. There were over 600 corporate restaurants in BAD shape and Pillsbury was trying to sell BKC to Britsh American Tobacco (BAT). The deal was not gonna be done without turning Philly around. Herman was sent there. I had no doubt that he would get the job done and in 2 years he turned a profit and Pillsbury sold out all remaining corporate restaurants to BAT. Herman for all of his success was handed the Godfathers chain which was also owned by Pillsbury, which was at bankruptcys doorstep. Jeff Campbell trusted Herman Cain, because of his track record of accomplishments and his ability to turn things around so fast.
I moved back to South Dakota content with my foray into the corporate world and started selling insurance and for the next 26 years I remembered that big smile and helpful man Herman Cain. I distinctly remember attending a meeting and conference for BKC in Minneapolis at the Marriot Marquette at the IDS Center and riding the elevator all the way to the top. 60 floors with Herman and his lovely wife Gloria! My wife and I were serenaded by Herman’s unbelievable voice as he sang “Moon River”, I practically had to carry my wife off the elevator. Once at the top the whole room stopped as Herman walked in, everyone looked like” Royalty had just arrived!” And I was with him!!! My chest was so pumped up and he was introducing ME to all of the “Pillsbury Brass ” and telling them that I was a Star! I was floored, 26 years old and ME? A STAR? So says HERMAN CAIN! I could have jumped off that building, 60 stories up and never never landed! I remember saying thank you to him for that. You know what he did? He shook my hand and said” YOU EARNED EVERY BIT OF THAT!. Then He said” I NEVER DOUBTED YOU COULD DO IT!”
I could go on about other incidents involving Herman Cain, and no doubt I will in the future. This story is not about me, it is all about the man Herman Cain. I was a tool, a valuable one to Herman and he knew how to get the best out of me, he did that to everyone. It is no wonder even stage 4 Cancer didn’t kill him. Herman is not a quitter, he never gives up. You hear that phrase “let Herman be Herman” Well that is why it exists. Herman accomplishes what he sets out to do. He doesn’t complain, disparage, whine, make excuses or run away. He deals with the truth and he is a man of Faith and Conviction. I remember he asked me one time if I was a believer. I thought for a second and said. “In what?”. He smiled and looked at me and said ” Jesus Christ” , Then he said “There is nothing else to believe in other than HIM,, and then if you have HIM, you can believe in yourself”. I always remembered that.
So as he made his announcement that Sunday morning my wife said, ‘Well I guess I know who WE are voting for!” I took another bite of my eggs, smiled, nodded my head and remembered my time with Herman!
We want to thank Cliff Dammer for providing us this wonderful First hand account of the Integrity of Herman Cain.
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