Taco Mayo CEO’s less traditional route to the top - 405 Magazine

Taco Mayo CEO’s less traditional route to the top

Keith Hocker, who began as legal counsel for the fast-food chain and is now acting CEO, discusses his path with Taco Mayo and how others might find success. 

Founded in May of 1978, Taco Mayo was given its name after the month its official creation took place. And franchiser Keith Hocker started at the company in 1995, initially as General Council of Taco Mayo Franchise Systems. There, he handled all legal matters and real estate transactions with his coworkers.

“In any event, transactional work, litigation and anything that a commercial lawyer would do from the outside – I now did on the inside, as an employee and equity owner in the company,” Hocker said.

On Jan. 1 2013, with a buyout of Hocker’s retired partner and President of Taco Mayo, Kurt Dennis, Hocker became the CEO of Taco Mayo. He now serves as both CEO and General Council of the company.

Taco Mayo currently has 23 company stores owned by Taco Mayo Franchise Systems, along with more than 15 locations that serve as businesses owned by outside franchisees.

Keith Hocker said he did not take the traditional route when it came to preparing for his position. In fact, he worked as a lawyer with his own private practice and partner for 11 years before joining Taco Mayo.

“I have a unique route that may not be for everybody, because I was a lawyer first, which has given me a specific skill set and insight into my particular job duties,” Hocker said. “As far as somebody else up-and-coming, the main goal is to start at the beginning with learning how businesses are run. Having a business degree would be very important before you come on board with a company as large as ours. Although it’s privately owned, it’s a regional brand that is large enough to where we have about 300-400 employees. In order to get a position in the company office opposed to the restaurant level, it’s best to come in with some type of degree.”