Andrew F. Puzder is the former CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (“CKE”). 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. From 1978 through 1991, Puzder was a commercial trial lawyer in St. Louis. From 1978 through 1983, he was an associate at the law offices of famed St. Louis attorney Morris A. Shenker who he also represented in various matters. In 1984 he moved to The Stolar Partnership in St. Louis and worked with Charles A. Seigel, another renowned St. Louis area trial attorney. During this period, Puzder was involved in a number of high-profile cases.
While practicing law in St. Louis, Puzder authored legislation which The United States Supreme Court upheld in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services in 1989. Following the Webster decision, Puzder was a founding member of The Common Ground Network for Life and Choice.
Also while in St. Louis, Puzder met Carl N. Karcher, the founder of the Carl’s Jr. quick-service restaurant chain. Karcher was embroiled in serious financial difficulties and asked Puzder to move to California as his personal attorney. In 1991, Puzder relocated to Orange County, Calif. He is credited with resolving Karcher’s financial dilemma, allowing Karcher to avoid bankruptcy and retain a significant ownership interest in the company he founded, CKE Restaurants.
Puzder principally resolved Karcher’s financial problems by putting together a transaction with William P. Foley, the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Financial, Inc. In 1994, Foley became Chairman and CEO of CKE and Karcher became Chairman Emeritus. In 1995, Puzder went on to become Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Fidelity, managing one of the largest corporate legal departments in the country. He also worked with Foley to create the Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, a conglomerate of restaurant chains. Puzder served as the company’s CEO.
In 1997, Puzder was named Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CKE. Also in 1997, CKE purchased Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc., which owned the Hardee’s quick-service restaurant brand. Hardee’s was a distressed brand and CKE was burdened by over $700 million in debt following the acquisition. The company underperformed and its market capitalization dropped to about $200 million. Faced with serious financial and operational issues, CKE’s Board of Directors named Puzder as president and CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems in June 2000 and named him president and CEO of CKE in September of that year. Puzder is credited with turning around both the Hardee’s brand and CKE, allowing the company to survive, become financially secure and return to growth.
In July of 2010, the private equity firm Apollo Management took CKE private in a transaction valued at $1 billion. In December of 2013, Roark Capital purchased CKE and retained CKE’s management team including Puzder, who retired after 16 years as CEO in April 2017. The company prospered under his management. It grew to an international quick-service food organization that owned and franchised more than 3,800 restaurants in the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2016, CKE’s company-owned and franchised restaurants generated $4.3 billion and employed over 75,000 people domestically and over 115,000 worldwide. CKE currently owns, operates, and franchises popular restaurant brand Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito.
On Dec. 8, 2016, Puzder was nominated by then President-elect Donald Trump to be the United States Secretary of Labor, but on Feb. 15, 2017, the eve of his scheduled confirmation hearing, Puzder withdrew his nomination after it became clear to Republican Senate leaders that they did not have the votes to confirm him in the Senate confirmation. Puzder was one of the Democrats’ biggest targets in the confirmation hearings.
Puzder, who many call a “poster CEO for the regulatory reform effort,” often appears on business news programs including “Varney & Co.,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” “Mornings with Maria,” “Squawk on the Street,” and “Live with Stephanie Ruhle.”
Puzder is a prolific author on economic and legal issues in periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investors’ Business Daily, Real Clear Politics, CNBC, The Hill, and the Orange County Register.
Puzder is a frequent lecturer on economics and politics for various groups and associations as well as at colleges and universities.
In 2010, he co-authored the book titled Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It. His second book, The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It, comes out on April 24, 2018.
Mr. Puzder and his wife Dee are major supporters of many charitable organizations including the Dream Foundation, a national non-profit serving terminally ill adults, which the Puzder’s have supported since its inception. The Puzder’s are also active contributors to local and national charities including: St. Philip’s Catholic Church; Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara; the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers to support Father Kevin Conroy’s ministry with AIDS-infected children in Cambodia; the Order of Marians to build and support a church and rectory in Rwanda; the Catholic Church in the Congo to build an orphanage for the survivors of the violence in that country; and, his alma maters, Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Mo. and Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. Puzder has six children and six grandchildren. Mr. Puzder and Dee live in Franklin, Tenn. For media inquiries and interview requests, contact Jeanne Hoffa at Jeanne at coastpgroup.com
- Puzder is a policy advisor to America First Policies and national council co-chair of the American Enterprise Institute.
- In both 2012 and 2016, Puzder served as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention and served as the Chairman of the Platform Committee’s Sub-Committee on the Economy, Job Creation and the Debt.
- In 2016, he was an Economic Adviser and a spokesman for the Trump Campaign for President.
- In 2012, Washington University School of Law named Puzder Distinguished Alumni of the Year.
- In 2011-12, Puzder received the honor of contributing to Believe in America, Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth. He was an Economic Adviser and a spokesman for the Romney Campaign for President.
- Also in 2011, he was appointed to serve on the National Advisory Board of Washington University School of Law.
- In 2010, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association awarded Puzder with the Food Service Operator of the Year Silver Plate Award in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to the foodservice industry.
- In 2009, Cleveland State University named Puzder Distinguished Alumni of the Year.
- Also in 2009, Puzder was named Coach Arts Man of the Year.
- Puzder earned the Golden Chain Award in 2008 from Nation’s Restaurant News, in honor of his accomplishments and career achievements as a multi-unit foodservice executive.
- PR News and CommCore Consulting named Puzder 2005 Spokesperson of the Year for his work in representing the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands on television and radio.