The D.L. Rogers (DLR) organization was founded by Donald L. Rogers on March 1, 1967, when he opened his first SONIC Drive-In in
Eureka, Kansas. This was early in the history of SONIC, and it is believed that the Eureka store was the 19th in the chain. Don was 38 years old.
He had previously worked in the oil field industry, but he wanted to be in control of his own destiny. He no longer wanted to work for others. Instead,
he wanted to work with others and he instilled a concept of partnership in his new organization. He recognized the importance of providing
opportunity through partnership.
Don set out on his personal journey and shared his vision with his new Partners. His philosophy was simple: If you do well, then I do well. He supplied
the wisdom and tools to his Partners so they, too, could achieve success. He taught his Partners how to handle money and stressed that it was a tool
to success. He told them that you get paid based upon your contributions, your people skills, and your leadership. Your results are directly tied
to your efforts – the harder and smarter you work, the more successful you will be.
The first couple of stores were not home runs right out of the gate. However, Don and his Partners persevered and developed the philosophy of
treating each guest like they are your only guest. Outstanding customer service became another founding principle of the business. In addition, Don realized that he was operating a penny-nickel-dime business and knew that you must take care of the small things to ensure success in the long run.
Don established the building blocks on which this company is based, and they are just as relevant today as they were in 1967. Don never set out
to have the largest organization in the SONIC system. From the beginning, the vision was always to have the best organization in the entire SONIC system. Partnership is still the key fundamental philosophy in this "company of owners" and the company's personal goal is simple:
Do a little bit better this year then we did last year. The vision of growth through partnership has always been at the forefront and as
opportunities arise, they continue to be pursued.
Don's eldest son, Darrell, worked by his side in the family business since the age of 14. Darrell took over the helm in 1983 upon Don's passing.
After Don's passing, Darrell – along with his team of Partners, Supervisors, Directors, and executives – continued to expand the business by
building new stores and acquiring Drive-Ins through acquisitions.
New store growth has always been steady at DLR, but the concept of growing by leaps and bounds came into play when DLR acquired six stores
in Joplin, Missouri on January 1, 2007. This acquisition proved to be so successful that DLR acquired 82 stores from SONIC Restaurant Industries
on May 1, 2009. In one fell swoop, DLR nearly doubled in size. Numerous other acquisitions have followed and DLR continues to pursue any
and all opportunities where they make sense. Additionally, DLR continues to build new stores and relocate old stores to drive sales in
our existing communities and provide opportunities for our Partners.
Darrell has always been entrepreneurial and he realized that opening new stores would not be sufficient to stay ahead of the competition. He has
always been an innovator and he introduced an expanded ice cream program to SONIC as a way to extend the business day to increase sales
and maximize profit. He installed playgrounds and volleyball courts to drive sales and make SONIC a destination spot in each community.
Darrell also brought Electronic Message Centers (EMCs) to SONIC after a test in Topeka, Kansas yielded a sales increase in excess of 7%.
These innovations were put in place to increase sales and maximize profits in the quest to be the best in the SONIC system.
Darrell’s daughter, Shawn, joined DLR in 2005, was named President/Chief Executive Officer in 2012, and was named Chairman/Chief Executive Officer
in 2020. Darrell’s son, Chris, joined the company in 2008, was named Vice President in 2012, and was named Senior Vice President of Corp. & Real Estate/Managing Member of DLR Family Investments LLC in 2020. Darrell announced his retirement in 2018, but he still serves as a
vital adviser to the company.
The DLR team has continued to expand the business all while continuing Don’s legacy of partnership and passing on the opportunity. DLR is
committed to providing opportunities to everyone in our organization, as this truly is a "company of owners."
The next Rogers generation is on a personal quest to take DLR from first-class to world-class, and they realize that this journey is not about them, but about everyone who contributes on a day-to-day basis to the success of this organization. We all walk together on the path to success
as no one gets there alone.