The Family Behind In-N-Out Burgers

For more than six decades, the Snyder family has been in control of the In-N-Out burger chain.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For more than six decades, the Snyder family has been in control of the In-N-Out burger chain. (Published Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011)

    For most of the last six decades, the Snyder family has been in control of the In-N-Out burger chain.

    In 1948, Harry and Esther Snyder just wanted to make a living for their two sons. They ended up making history, building what's believed to have been the first drive through restaurant in Baldwin Park.

    "Many people do not remember that In-N-Out was built before the I-10 freeway," according to city historian Robert Benbow.

    As the burger chain grew, so did the Synder's generosity, says Benbow.

    The community center in Baldwin Park is named after Mrs Snyder.

    After her husband died, their son Rich Snyder took over and kept building the family business until December 15th, 1993.

    That night, the 41-year old president and two other In-N-Out executives died in a Santa Ana plane crash.

    Six years later, the Synder's other son, Guy, died of a prescription drug overdose.

    Industry experts say that could have been the end of the tightly controlled burger chain, which refused to go public or franchise.

    "My sense of it, having been there and talked to them, it is more like a family, and once you're kind of in the door, you don't want to leave, and of course they don't want you to leave either," according to Bob Sandelman, of Sandelman and Assoc. "That's one of the things that promotes this consistency that I think is so important to their success."

    Now there is one heir, Guy Snyder's 29-year old daughter, Lynsi Martinez.

    Her private world became public in 2006 when fired executive Richard Boyd claimed Martinez preferred car racing and partying hard to running the company. They settled out of court with a confidentiality clause.

    That secrecy is what author Stacy Perman encountered when she spent two years investigating the company for her book.

    "The have a very strong moat around the company. They have a very strong image that they like to uphold," according to Perman.

    Rarely is anyone allowed beyond the gated In-N-Out complex on Hamburger lane.

    The company says its focus is on a simple menu, and on quality, freshness and cleanliness, which includes the employees.

    "I did get sent home once because my sideburns were too low, and it was my fault, but I ran home really quick, shaved 'em up and then came back to work," says Sam Glancy, a former employee.

    Glancy started making ten dollars an hour. He says store managers who attend the In-N-Out University can easily earn six figures. Company wide sales are never disclosed, but estimated to be over $450 million.