A Recipe for Job Creation

Andrew Puzder, CEO of Carpenteria-based CKE Restaurants


By Lori Putnam

A day after President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on a new job creation bill, Andrew Puzder gave his own rebuttal in Malibu Hall as part of the University’s Meet the CEOs Fall Speaker Series sponsored by the Business Advisory Council of the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics. 

“If you have a business environment where businesses are afraid to grow, stimulus spending won’t make them grow,” stated Puzder, CEO of Carpenteria-based CKE Restaurants. “Stimulus spending is like planting seeds in a barren field instead of fertile field. If you’re going to do this spending, perhaps we need to fertilize first.” 

As head of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, Puzder is on the front lines of the struggle between business and labor. He shares his own recipe for job growth in a new book entitled Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It. Co-authored with David Newton, a professor at Westmont College, Puzder outlines a three-pronged approach to boosting job creation: reduce taxes, reduce government interference, and expand domestic oil. The result, he believes, is an increased certainty that business demands in order to start hiring again. 

Puzder, the former general counsel for Fidelity National Financial, entered the restaurant industry as the personal attorney for Carl’s Jr. founder Carl Karcher. He was then brought in to help turn around a struggling Hardees restaurant chain, and would eventually assume the CEO position at CKE overseeing more than 3,000 restaurants and 75,000 employees. 

According to Puzder, every time CKE opens a restaurant it creates 25 new jobs with a multiplier effect of three that encompasses everyone from the person who plants the crops to the driver who delivers produce. Yet he views recent pushes in mandatory healthcare coverage and EPA regulations as a threat to job growth. 

“We can make decisions that healthcare or regulating carbon fuel is more important. I’m here to tell you every benefit has a cost — and the cost to this country is economic,” said Puzder. He cites California as a prime example of government hampering job growth. According to Puzder, it takes eight months to apply for a permit to build a restaurant. In Texas, by comparison, it takes six weeks. 

“Reliance on big government to solve our problems reduces our freedom and diminishes us as a nation,” concluded Puzder. “Government needs to get out of the way and let American free enterprise bring this economy back. We can do it, we don’t need help.”