Building a legacy, one franchise at a time
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David Costa Jr. takes pride in the creativity used to enhance play areas at two of his stores.
When David Costa Sr. started operating his first McDonald’s franchise, he was working 16 to 17 hours a day and driving some of his employees, who didn’t have cars, back home after their shifts. Those years were “pretty tough,” he recalls. “It was a real eye-opening experience.”
Fast-forward a few decades, and now he and his family own close to two dozen McDonalds’ franchises throughout Northwest Florida, thanks to their business savvy, creativity and a lot of good, old-fashioned hard work.
A Family Affair
Formerly a contract negotiator for the U.S. Air Force, Costa, 61, had studied the McDonald’s business model while getting his MBA and liked what he saw. He got out of the military after 15 years and became an owner-operator, starting with just one store in Mobile, Alabama. Thanks to his excellent management skills, the corporation began offering him and his family more and more McDonald’s restaurants, and Costa Enterprises, which now has 21 stores to its name, was born.
While in college, David Costa Jr., now 35, decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and get involved in McDonald’s. He now owns seven of the stores run by Costa Enterprises.
“It’s been a good way to work together with family,” David Costa Jr. says. “Obviously from time to time we’ll have occasional challenges, but we’re both very passionate about the business, and it works well because we complement each other’s assets.”
David Costa Jr. handles the day-to-day operations, making sure things are running smoothly, while David Costa Sr. focuses more on the business development and marketing end of things.
David Costa Sr.’s daughter Amy and her husband, Steven Killebrew, have also joined the family business, and now own two of the Costa Enterprises McDonald’s locations. Amy Killebrew is involved with local store marketing and has helped with such endeavors as the Teacher Appreciation Card initiative, where every year Costa Enterprises sends a McDonald’s “credit card” to all the teachers (roughly 6,000) in the counties where their stores are located. The card includes a note of thanks for the teachers’ work and entitles them to a free beverage any time they visit a McDonald’s restaurant, with no purchase necessary.
Amy says working with family enables her to have more flexibility now that she and Steven have three young children.
“I actually have … a chalkboard table in my office, where my kids will come and play and draw. My mom has a toy bin. It’s extremely family-friendly,” she remarks. “And we all have lunch together in my mom’s office a lot of the time.”
David Costa Sr.’s wife, Helen, 61, who met her husband at age 13 when he moved in next door, is also an owner-operator and is responsible for the payroll.
“I enjoy the personal side of the business,” she says, “getting to know people, their journeys, where they’re going.”