Hardee’s, library served at chamber breakfast

Published 8:16 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Hardee’s served up the program Thursday morning during the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast, which included its biscuits, before handing over part of the program over to the Southwest Georgia Regional Library.

Dan Ponder, president of Ponder Enterprises of Donalsonville, is marking his 25th year in business as the owner of the area’s Hardee’s restaurants.

Ponder Enterprises owns 22 Hardee’s—including the one located at 1000 E. Shotwell St. in Bainbridge—scattered from Cordele, Ga., to Enterprise, Ala., to below Tallahassee, Fla. It employs approximately 900 persons, which includes about 50 managers.

The restaurant chain, which started in 1960, has spread throughout most of the United States, but some come under the name of Carl’s Jr., particularly out West, and Hardee’s has a big presence in the Middle East with three stores in Iraq, Ponder said.

Ponder mentioned some interesting facts about Hardee’s and the American appetite:

• Hardee’s is known for its big hamburgers, and the biggest is the half-pound “quarter-pounder double,” which Ponder said some people actually order the upgraded combo version;

• The quarter-pound hamburger used to be the “biggest” hamburger. Now it’s considered the smallest;

• Seventy percent of Hardee’s business is through the drive-through window;

• Mexico is Hardee’s biggest market, with each store there grossing approximately $6 million per store, per year.

Ponder said his company is in the process of remodeling each of its stores, and the Bainbridge one will be renovated in the near future. The company recently completed renovations on its headquarters and he has collected historical Hardee’s memorabilia that the public is welcomed to view.

Ponder said the company is truly a family-run company. One of his daughters, Elizabeth Faulk, is director of marketing; his son-in-law, Daaron Vanstone, is director of finance and information technology; and his brother, Ernest Ponder, is vice president of operations.

Ponder then turned the program over the Catherine Vanstone of the Southwest Georgia Regional Library, which happened to be one of Ponder’s daughters.

Library resources

Vanstone said the public libraries in Bainbridge, Cairo and Donalsonville have the resources to help those who have lost their jobs and are looking for ways to cut their budgets.

She said it has books, computers, CDs and other resources to help unemployed persons with job searches, resume writing and interview techniques. It also has resources on credit repair, investing tips, saving and estate planning tips.

The library, which several years ago was recognized as one of the best in the nation during a White House ceremony, also offers beginning computer classes that often have a waiting list.

Those wanting to use the state-funded Galileo computer network can do it from home; they just have to call the library for a password.

And the library is not just for lovers of books and computers.

Vanstone said a very popular part of the library is its Playstation and Wii gaming areas.

“It gets them in the door,” Vanstone said of teen-agers who might not otherwise want to step foot in a library. “Computer classes are a big part of our adult programs.”