Meet Josh Ullmark, Director of Operations

Photo of Josh Ullmark.

Josh Ullmark

Director of Operations

What year did you start working for McDonald’s and the Walla Organization? 


What led you to your current career at McDonald’s?

McDonald’s was a High School job to help me save for college and pay for a car. I was a shy, quiet kid with aspirations of joining the Air Force in the medical field. After receiving a scholarship and then later deciding the USAF wasn’t for me, I worked on finishing my degree while simultaneously working full-time to have money to pay for tuition. One day, Wendy told me her future plans and expressed her belief in me, which persuaded me to stay after I earned my Bachelor’s. Her ability to truly put her people first, and her compassion and generosity led me to decide that I only wanted to work with her as a boss.

There is a stereotype of working for McDonald’s. I can only attest to what it is like working for the Rapid City McDonald’s, but it is so much more than “burger flipping” (although I can still make sandwiches with the best of them!). If you are motivated and put forth the effort, the sky is truly the limit. Watching so many employees starting as a 14 year old kid and growing up in our company to manage a multimillion dollar company with a hundred employees, being able to purchase a home and raise a family, and rewarding them with unique once in a lifetime opportunities is probably my favorite part of the job.

What is your current position and responsibility?

I am the Director of Operations for the Walla Organization, overseeing all aspects of the Rapid City McDonald’s, focusing on the financial, growth and direction of the company. My job is to simply ensure the Walla Organization keeps striving to get to a level of perfection that Wendy envisions- where every customer has an amazing experience, and our employees all feel valued and appreciated. We are human and certainly aren’t perfect, but I am proud of how great our staffs are to help get us a close as possible!

Why do you work at McDonald’s?

Again, because of the leader that Wendy is. I appreciate and respect McDonald’s as a company and their values. However, I specifically work for Wendy as her right-hand-man and take great pride in helping steer our organization to be recognized nationally as an organization that is renowned for our operations, sales and people practices. I genuinely enjoy my job: the relationships, the ability to pass on what Wendy has taught me and better people’s lives, the humor and fun, the special opportunities to travel and the responsibility of overseeing a company that has thousands of people come through each day and returning the next day because of our standards and operations.

What is it like working for the Walla Organization?

Lots of places throw the word family around - we truly are a family. Granted, with approximately 400 employees at any given time, most of my time is spent dealing with the upper managers- but I am proudly confident that we have a cultivated an environment and culture in our restaurants where we focus on making sure all employees from their first day feel made to be part of our family. The number of stories I could put in here of how we have helped people’s lives improve could be a novel. We have amazing leaders across our restaurants and one of my greatest joys with this career is watching them develop and become amazing people who go above and beyond with their employees.

There are so many close relationships built over the years, many lifelong friendships made. I have been a member of 8 wedding parties from friendships forged at McDonald’s! Work is work, but there is so much fun we have at work as well. In part, because of how amazing Wendy is in recognizing her people (parties, dinners, cabin retreats, trips to Las Vegas, murder mystery dinners, game nights to name a few). The other part is the amazing people we have working for us, and the great sense of humor and camaraderie between them. We have a competitive group that strives to be not only the best in town but nationally, and they push each other - but in an enjoyable and friendly way (with extremely amusing smack talk and banter). Being able to laugh and enjoy the company of people you work with makes a huge impact on morale, and our morale is through the roof.

What is your go-to meal at McDonald’s?

Spicy chicken (unless it is the time of the year for the McRib) and a shake. And McDonald’s has, hands down, the best black coffee of any restaurant.

How does your career at McDonald’s support your life outside of work?

I am blessed to have worked to be in the position I am now. I met my wife at McDonald’s and currently my oldest son works for McDonald’s (my wife is no longer with the company after earning her Master’s, but always tells me how much she misses it). Over the years, McDonald’s has given me amazing opportunities to travel locally to Fargo and Sioux Falls, and beyond to Dallas, Orlando, and Hawaii. As a General Manager, I won an award and McDonald’s paid for my wife and me to spend a week in downtown Chicago, which was an amazing time.

We focus on flexible scheduling, because work should not make you miss an important life event. We do this for newly-hired employees, and we run extremely large staff numbers to ensure we allow that flexibility on a day-to-day basis.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love playing and watching sports, playing board games, hanging with my wife and two boys, being an amateur bartender and collecting entirely too many Star Wars collectibles.

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