Firehouse Subs owner uses leadership lessons he learned during 20-year military career
QUINCY — Larry Webb tries to take care of veterans who visit his restaurant every day.
They received an extra treat on Thursday.
Webb, owner of the Firehouse Subs restaurant at 3720 Broadway, offers a free drink and a bag of potato chips to all veterans any day. On Veterans Day, he offered to serve a free bowl of chili, macaroni and cheese or chicken dumpling soup to those who had served this country.
The leadership style he learned during his 20 years in the service now carries over to how he runs his restaurants in Quincy and St. Charles.
“It’s people,” he said. “I’ve found that that servant leadership is so, so, so effective. It’s key to the way we lead in our restaurants and in many corporate settings. We need to make sure our people understand that they are part of this. They are valued. Their input is valued and sought after. It takes a lot to build a relationship, to nurture that relationship where they feel that they can trust us and have the ability to come to owners, leaders and managers.
“Servant leadership is something that comes director from my military experience. I’m making sure our people understand I do value them and I do care. Their development and their input means a great deal to the success of the organization. If I take care of them, then they’re going take care of our customers, and then we will accomplish a lot of things.”
Webb originally is from Paynesville, Mo., a tiny village in Pike County, Mo., with a population of around 80 people. After graduating from Clopton High School, Webb attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and was later selected for the ROTC program in 1978. He went to basic training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the ROTC program.
Webb later was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina as a military police officer with the XVIII Airborne Corps and 82d Airborne Division. He then was sent to the U.S. Army Europe headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, and was assigned to anti-terrorism office responsible for the development of policy and doctrine for U.S. Army Protective Service Details. Toward the end of his career, Webb was reassigned to a classified joint research and developmental program office located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
He was reassigned to St. Louis and planned to spend a year there before heading back to Europe. He learned his wife’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and he died shortly after that. He then found out his father was suffering from cancer as well.
“We decided it was time for us to stay home, be with our families and spend time with our fathers and our mothers,” Webb said. “So we retired.”
Webb worked for Bass Pro Shops in St. Charles, Mo., but he wanted to own his own restaurant. He had never heard of Firehouse Subs until he took a call from his sister.
“She was up in Chicago, and she said, ‘I just ate at a Firehouse Subs, and it was awesome,’” Webb said. “it became very interesting to me to hear their values. They line up so much with my military experience and the things I hold dear to me.”
He opened the restaurant in Quincy in May 2019.
“We opened that store, and the response from the community was absolutely unbelievable,” Webb said. “It was just one of the best that the company has ever experienced as far as the community embracement.”
He said the restaurant is bouncing back after some lean days thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re coming back,” he said. There’s been some really good days here in the last couple of months.”
Webb gives back to first responders and the military through Firehouse Subs’ Public Safety Foundation, which provides lifesaving equipment, funding and education to first responders and public safety organizations. Funds collected online on Veterans Day will support the foundation’s Military Restricted Fund to assist with requests for adaptive tools and funding of programs and services that enhance veterans’ quality of life.
Firehouse Subs has donated approximately $13,000 to the Quincy Fire Department.
“The whole purpose is to give back to our communities,” he said. “We actually coordinate with the fire departments, EMTs, military organizations, even organizations that want to put on educational classes for people just designed to be firefighters. They can put in a grant request with me through me. And I get that to our Public Safety Foundation.
“We have been very fortunate in Quincy to have a relationship that shows that we work very well together.”
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