A former owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken was not high on the chances of success for KFC's new grilled chicken offering. Former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown, speaking at the Alltech Agribusiness Summit in Lexington, Ky., said that he doesn't think that grilled chicken will work for KFC based on the past failure of roasted chicken.


John Y. Brown speaking at the Alltech Agribusiness Summit.

Brown discussed his success in growing the franchising concept started by "Colonel" Harlan Sanders in the U.S. and in 57 foreign countries prior to selling his interest in the fast food chicken restaurant chain in 1971. He said that the secret to his own success was being a good salesman, a hard worker, not being afraid to fail and luck.

"I failed more than I succeeded in business; I failed a lot," Brown said. "Success is built in the footprints of failure." He said that all entrepreneurs need to be able to take risks and deal with failure. He explained that you just need to be able to accept when an idea isn't working and move on. "I knew when to quit digging the hole deeper," he said.


Brown was willing to share opinions on a number of subjects with the audience. He said that a great deal of the success of Kentucky Fried Chicken was due to branding, and that he was not fond of the use of the name KFC .

In the 1960s, Brown said that Kentucky Fried Chicken was the leading quick service restaurant (QSR) chain and had more outlets than McDonald's. He said that the success of Kentucky Fried Chicken helped establish franchising as a growth tool for national and international QSR chains.

On a lighter note, Brown said that Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, worked for Kentucky Fried Chicken during Brown’s tenure with the company. "Dave Thomas worked for me for two years; everyone wanted me to fire him. He was slow and pokey," Brown said. Speed isn’t everything.