A Friendly Life- The Autobiography of S. Prestley Blake
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A Friendly Life is the autobiography of S. Prestley Blake,
co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, a large chain of
family restaurants. Pres is currently 96 years old and remains a
no-nonsense, take-charge kind of guy.
Pres Blake and his brother
Curtis started Friendly Ice Cream in 1935, in the midst of the Great
Depression. With $547 initial capital from their parents, Pres and
Curtis worked day and night in their tiny shop. This small business kept
expanding, and over time, grew to a 500-plus restaurant chain. The
Blake brothers invoked straightforward business principles to guide
their growth, and with hard work and good advice from other business
people, they were able to succeed, as Pres says, "beyond our wildest
dreams.” After 40 years, they sold Friendly’s to the Hershey
Corporation. Pres’s message to young entrepreneurs: "Work hard, look for
opportunities, mind your manners, and stay smart. If I could do it, so
Once retired, Pres embarked on a series of grand adventures, involving
his fascination with fine motorcars, exploring the world, and
But at age 86, Pres was roused to come back and save Friendly’s, his
"baby," from the management team that had bought it from Hershey. Pres
fought for seven years to liberate Friendly’s from mismanagement. Seven
years and eleven million dollars later, Pres got what he had hoped for: a
new owner of the company who would handle Friendly’s with care.
Harvard Business School has included the story of Pres’s lawsuit as a management case study in corporate governance.
A Friendly Life
is a fascinating portrait of a man whose life has been guided by his
principles. The book reminds us that you’re never too old to fight for
what you believe is right.