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Andrew Cherng’s Biography
Jin Chan Cherng, the founder of one of the largest Chinese quick-service chains in the United States, Panda Express, was born in Shanghai, China, in 1948. Most of his childhood, he spent in Yokohama, Japan, where he graduated from an international high school. Then he moved to Baldwin, Kansas, and in 1970 obtained his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Baker University. At the University of Missouri, where he continued his education and acquired a master’s degree in mathematics, he met his future wife, Peggy Tsiang. Peggy Tsiang immigrated to the United States from Burma and was obtaining her master’s degree in computer science at the University of Missouri. Cherng’s quick-serve food empire started in 1972 as a small Chinese restaurant Panda Inn in Pasadena, California. In 1983, he opened the quick-serve outlet in a large suburban mall. His wife designed the software programs for the company and carried out the administrative duties. In the consecutive years, the Cherngs opened more than 100 Panda Express outlets in all states (Hirahara 36). Currently, there are more than 1800 Panda Express branches in the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico (Leibowitz, “The Tao of Panda Express”).
The Chengs’ Business Model
The Panda Restaurant Group is a family-owned enterprise with headquarters in the San Gabriel Valley. Their philosophy is that a successful businessperson should serve in order to lead (Brott 20). They help their employees to improve their livelihood and learn to live a full life. Their aim is to make their employees financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically better because they believe that it helps to do the job well and treat the clientele better. Even the Panda Restaurant Group’s headquarters seem to be designed to boost the personal development of their employees: numerous motivational posters on the walls and books on tables inspire people to want more success for themselves and Panda (Leibowitz, “The Tao of Panda Express”).
The company’s policy also focused on the active encouragement of its employees to attend personal improvement seminars. The company holds meetings every weekend when a large number of Panda’s employees that include both servers and members of the Panda Group’s PR gather for team-building activities (Leibowitz, “The Tao of Panda Express”). When Cherng was asked what the source of his inspiration was, he replied: “Our associates” (Brott 21). Thus, the company’s business model is to focus its attention on employees: inspire them and help to become better since only happy and motivated workers may provide high-quality service for customers.
Possible Improvements of the Business Model
The company may try to develop new menus and interiors for their restaurants as well as upgrade the mobile application for Panda service. It seems that Cherng’s approach to business is unilateral and needs to be revised in order to shift the focus from employees to customers a little. Then, there will be a balance in the company’s employee-customer orientation.
Andrew and Peggy Cherng are good examples of the successful family business. Their business approach is based on the segregation of duties: Andrew is responsible for the work with employees and their motivation, and Peggy is the so-called science technician of their team. It was interesting to learn how much the company may invest in its human resources. Such a business model is not new; many companies and corporations implement it in their workflow, developing the employees’ professional potential in order to receive more profits. On the contrary, the Cherngs seem to see their primary goal in the personal development of their workers, considering it as a determining factor in one’s good professional operation.
Brott, Rich. Maximizing Your Business Success: 11 Critical Principles That Lead to Prosperity! Rich Brott, 2009.
Hirahara, Naomi. Distinguished Asian American Business Leaders. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.
Leibowitz, Ed. “The Tao of Panda Express.” Los Angeles Magazine, 2015, Web.