NCCR president Jack Whipple to retire

Longtime industry veteran Jack Whipple will be stepping down from his post as president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants at the end of the year, the Washington, D.C.-based organization said.

Whipple, who has held the top post at the NCCR for the past five years, previously had spent 25 years with McDonald’s Corp. in key public policy positions, including vice president of government relations.

“Jack was a tremendous leader during the years he served NCCR, and this is the capstone to a terrific career,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the National Retail Federation, the NCCR’s parent. “He is a pioneer in the public policy arena. Nobody was doing this in the industry when he started at McDonald’s.”

Pat Sheehy, director of government relations for Cracker Barrel and NCCR chairman, said Whipple’s “leadership, experience, professionalism and tireless commitment to the chain restaurant community have been invaluable to NCCR.”

Shay said the association, which represents about 100 foodservice chains across the nation, will conduct a search for Whipple’s successor and hopes to fill the spot within the next 90 days.

“The issues facing the industry are just too great for further delay or inaction,” he said. “We can’t wait. There is just too much risk and exposure. We must be positioned for the start of the next Congress.”

Shay said he would expect the candidate to have significant experience on Capitol Hill and a high level of credibility with policymakers. “Once we’ve hired that person, we will work to establish other resources that the NCCR needs,” he added.

The change at the helm also is expected to translate into major changes for the 40-year-old NCCR, although Shay declined to provide specifics at this point.

“We’ve gotten to the point where issues faced by the industry are so great we need to look critically at the investment we make in the organization and the resources it has to represent its members and programs and services we offer,” he said. “This is the moment to do that. The NCCR needs to be a more robust and active organization that represents the leading brands in the industry.

“When you think about the chain restaurant industry from an economic perspective, it is incredibly important to the economy," Shay added. "There ought to be an advocacy proposition consistent with that.”

He said the NRF’s investment in NCCR will increase substantially and its activity on Capitol Hill is expected to grow dramatically.

“Filling the [president’s] position will be just the beginning,” Shay noted. “It will be consistent with larger activity. We’re on the cusp of doing something exciting, something the restaurant industry has needed for a long time.”

One logical outcome, he said, will be that leading restaurant chains will become more fully integrated in the NRF.

“After all, they’re retailers, and restaurateurs as a part of the retailer industry are enormously significant,” he said.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected]