More accolades were bestowed upon Reginald and René Webb, the owner-operators of several McDonald’s restaurants in the greater L.A. area, with the well-known entrepreneurs receiving Honorary Doctors of Humane Letters degrees from California State University – San Bernardino.
The presentation, held December 11, took place during the commencement ceremony for the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration and the College of Arts and Letters at Coussoulis Arena. Many people cheered the couple’s receipt of the honor, especially in light of their long history of charity towards others.
In 1985, Reginald and René founded Webb Family Services and went on to build a business empire benefitting family members and the local community. According to the company website, the firm’s goal is “to foster an environment of success for our family, our employees, the African-American community, and other communities of limited opportunity.”
“Through their company, Reginald and René support various early entrepreneurs and create a community of successful individuals, which in turn helps elevate the quality of people’s lives in our region,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales. “They are incredibly deserving of this recognition and we are proud to award them with honorary doctorates.”
By all accounts, Reggie and René passed down community values and business principles to their children, which exemplifies the concept of generational wealth. Since purchasing their first two McDonald’s franchises in Pomona 36 years ago, Webb Family Enterprises has grown to encompass 16 locations in L.A. County and the Inland Empire.
The company’s top executives consist of daughter, Kiana Webb-Severloh, who serves as president and chief operating officer, and son, Kyle, chief financial officer as well as chief executive officer of Webb Family Investments. Both also own six McDonald’s franchises. In addition, Karim, the oldest son, bought a Buffalo Wild Wings in 1997 and currently owns four franchises in Los Angeles and the South Bay.
Reaching beyond their immediate family, Reggie and René acquaint other young people to entrepreneurial possibilities by employing more than 1,100 Southern California residents at their restaurants. The family also operates CEEM – the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement – that offers workshops and resources to support Black businesses and increase “wealth, prosperity and educational outcomes in the African American community,” as described by Kyle in a 2019 Sentinel interview.
Also, the Webb family has supported Bakewell Media’s Taste of Soul Family Festival as leaders in the Black McDonald’s Operators Association of Southern California. For the past seven years, Reggie Webb and BMOA were chief sponsors of the TOS Brenda Marsh-Mitchell Gospel Stage, which featured national gospel artists performing before tens of thousands at the nation’s largest street gathering.
“BMOA put on a gospel fest for 24 consecutive years. Lindsay Hughes, an operator here, ran it for 19 years and then, we [brought] the Inspiration [Celebration] Gospel Tour to L.A., and have expanded it every year,” Webb, a former BMOA chair, said in a 2018 Sentinel interview.
In the area of civic involvement, Webb has served on the University of La Verne board of trustees since 2014, as director emeritus of the Los Angeles County Fair Association since 2012, and as a longtime member of the Ronald McDonald Children Charities.
He is also the recipient of the 365Black Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an honoree’s outstanding achievements in making positive contributions that strengthen the African American community.
Concern and compassion for others has characterized Webb throughout his adult life. A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, he joined the civil rights movement after his discharge from the military. He also worked with the Community Action Agency, part of the United States’ War on Poverty, before being recruited by McDonald’s Corporation in 1973.
Promotions followed swiftly; he became director of the National Operations Department in 1978, then manager of the Los Angeles/Southern California region in 1980, and Los Angeles regional vice president in 1982. He left McDonald’s in 1985 to launch Webb Family Enterprises.
He has held several elected franchisee leadership positions including chair of the National Black McDonald’s Operator Association, chair of the National Leadership Council (representing all McDonald’s franchises in the U.S.) and founding chair of the Global Operator Leadership Council (representing all McDonald’s franchisees worldwide).
When René Webb was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985, the family began to work together in support of disease research in addition to their business efforts. They also launched their charitable efforts to give back to the community, which they have increased and expanded over the years.
René Webb has been inducted into the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Hall of Fame in recognition of her contributions. Their additional philanthropic service includes the Learning Centers at Fairplex, Southern California Public Radio, the National Council of Negro Women and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Reginald Webb studied political science at California State University, Los Angeles. René Webb graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with an accounting degree.