Andrew F. Puzder is the former CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings, which owns, operates, and franchises popular restaurant brands Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito. Known as a turnaround king for guiding both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s out of financial turmoil before fusing the two fast-food businesses, he is credited with growing CKE into the mega-corporation it is today. In 2017, Puzder, who served as an economic adviser and spokesman for Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign for president, was nominated by then-President elect Donald Trump to be United States Secretary of Labor. Puzder later withdrew his nomination. Now retired from CKE, he is exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau. Puzder discusses leading and succeeding within a competitive marketplace, reinventing brands, regulation, employment, and labor, and job automation and the future of consumer goods industries.
Over the course of Andrew Puzder’s 17-year-tenure as CEO, he took CKE from a debt-burdened brand with a $200 million capitalization to a booming $1 billion valuation in 2010 before the company was taken private. Puzder, who many call a “poster CEO for the regulatory reform effort,” first began working with CKE in the 1980s. In 1997, he was named Executive Vice President and General Counsel. CKE’s Board of Directors named Puzder president and CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems in June 2000, and named him president and CEO of CKE in September of that year. In 2010, private equity firm Apollo Management took CKE private in a transaction valued at $1 billion and in 2013, Roark Capital purchased CKE and retained CKE’s management team including Puzder, who retired after 16 years as CEO in April 2017. Under Puzder’s stewardship, CKE grew to an international quick-service food organization that owns and franchises more than 3,800 restaurants around the world. In fiscal year 2016, CKE generated $4.3 billion and employed over 115,000 people worldwide.
Before joining CKE, Puzder was Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Fidelity National Financial Inc., where he managed one of the largest corporate legal departments in the country. He also worked alongside former CKE Chairman William P. Foley to create the Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, a conglomerate of restaurant chains. Puzder served as the company’s CEO.
Puzder is the author of the book Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It, an author on economic and legal issues often published in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and a frequent guest on business news programs including Your World with Neil Cavuto, Squawk on the Street, and Live with Stephanie Ruhle. He earned a Juris Doctorate in 1978 from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo., where he served as Senior Editor on the Law Review. He is a member and former National Council Co-Chair of the American Enterprise Institute and the recipient of many awards for his outstanding contributions to the business world.