Member snapshot – Tony Aichinger from McDonald’s Family Restaurants

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If you’re involved in a sporting club or charity in Wagga Wagga, there’s a good chance you’ve benefitted from the generosity of Tony and Luita Aichinger.

McDonald’s franchisees for the past 20 years, Tony and Luita have won a raft of awards, including Australia’s top gong – The Ronald Award – twice and The Ray Kroc Award, an international prize given out once every two years to the top 0.01% of operators in the world.

We caught up with Tony to discuss his McDonald’s success story and why it’s important to give back. 

Committee 4 Wagga

Member snapshot 

Meet with Tony Aichinger and three things quickly become clear: he loves his family, he values his staff and he cares for his community.

Growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tony spent 10 years as a plumber before becoming an officer in the NSW Police Force.

A transfer brought Tony and his family to the Riverina, and he’s never looked back.

“About 30 years ago, I transferred from Liverpool to Gundagai in the NSW Police Force. 

“I worked there for about six years and then eventually entered McDonald’s opening up the Gundagai restaurant, which we had for a few years before we sold it and came over to Wagga.

“I was drawn to McDonald’s because it is a very strong, successful company and brand.

“We now have six restaurants with market capitalisation of $25-30 million, and our staff sits around 550 people ranging from those on the frontline to supervisors, store managers and administration staff. 

“We employ people of all ages and that diversity is important to us.

“Our people make our business. Without our staff doing their jobs on a daily basis, we wouldn’t be here.”

That staff includes the couple’s four children. Jade and Jessica work in administration, while Cherell and Blake work in the restaurants.

“They’ve all chosen to be part of the business. They all just started to come and work when they were 15 or 16. Some have gone out and tried other things and have come back, but mostly they’ve been involved in the business for the last 15-20 years.”

Tony said another key reason he was drawn to McDonald’s was its focus on community.

“The community supports the business, so the McDonald’s business model is to give some of that support and assistance back to the community.”

Tony sponsors a range of sporting clubs, grounds and officials, along with community events such as Wagga Live and Gears & Beers, and community facilities, such as a painting commissioned for the Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital by renowned Australian artist John Olsen. 

“It’s probably easier to tell you the people we don’t sponsor than the people we do!

“Most of our sponsorships are significant contracts; $10,000-15,000 per year over 3, 6 or 9 years.

“If you wanted to quantify everything, it’s probably in the vicinity of $200,000 a year we put back into sporting, scholastic and local community initiatives.”

Tony said he loves supporting Ronald McDonald House here in Wagga.

“We’ve been involved since day one. I’m on the board and Luita is on the fundraising committee. It’s been going for over 10 years now and we’re just about to open the family room at the hospital, which is another great asset for the community.”

For the past five years, Tony and Luita have hosted a fundraising ball for the charity.

This year, the Aichingers have changed venues from their family home to the Temora Aviation Museum 

We just wanted to make sure that we didn’t get caught short with the weather. It used to be invitation only but this year we’re going to try and see how many we can get. We can only fit 200-250 people at our home, so this year the sky is the limit. We hope to get 400 there this year, so you’re all invited.”

The ball will be held on Saturday 7 October. The following Monday, Tony will set off on the ‘Nullarbor 4000 For Sick Kids’ ride from Perth to Sydney.

“I’ve done a lot of Rides For Sick Kids, all of them around 1000kms in one week. In the past, we’ve raised anything from $100,000-$250,000 that’s why I’m trying to up the ante and get to $300,000 this time.

“I’ll be riding about 200kms a day, so it will take me between 16-20 days.

“It’s important to me to be able to do something for those families and children that use a Ronald McDonald House in their time of need. If providing accommodation for them at that difficult time is what we can do, we’re all happy to be part of that.”

You can follow Tony’s fundraising efforts on Facebook (T at The BIG M) or Instagram (@t_at_thebigm).

NewsCristy Houghton