McDonald's Saipan hosted its 20th Anniversary Appreciation Banquet last Saturday in celebration of an important milestone in the company's history and in recognition of corporate partners that have been integral to the success of Saipan's Golden Arches.
Close to 140 public officials, business leaders, and other dignitaries took part in Saturday evening's program held at the Royal Taga Ballroom of the Saipan World Resort in Susupe. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Mangilao Mayor Nonito C. Blas of Guam, and McDonald's Guam executives Pacifico Martir and Annabelle Dancel led the toast for Joe and Marcia Ayuyu, the formidable couple behind the local franchise of the world's number one chain of fast food restaurants.
What began as a modest dream has led a long-time public servant to start up his own business and eventually become one of the most recognized and well-respected homegrown entrepreneurs in the Northern Marianas.
McDonald's Saipan president Joe Ayuyu recounted how he did not let his humble beginnings and years of working in the public sector get in the way of his ambition to start up his own business, following the footsteps of other business leaders who have worked their way to the top.
“I tell myself that if they can do it, then perhaps I can do it as well and become successful at it one day,” Joe Ayuyu said in a video presentation watched by an attentive audience.
When the McDonald's Corp. announced its plans to venture in the region and were on the lookout for franchise owners on both Saipan and Guam, Joe Ayuyu turned in his application and went through a difficult selection process that saw him as one of the top two chosen candidates.
Through his hard work and after undergoing intensive training, Joe Ayuyu became the first franchise owner of McDonald's on Saipan, which officially opened its doors on island on March 18, 1993.
Inos congratulated Joe and Marcia Ayuyu and their family for their contributions to the island community in the last two decades, among which are providing employment opportunities, sponsoring training programs, consistently innovating its products and services, and promoting high standards of social responsibility through their donations to charitable causes.
“You continue to strive in the good and bad days. Thank you for never giving up on the CNMI for the past 20 years. The lieutenant governor and I and the people of the Commonwealth wish you more success in the future,” Inos said in his brief remarks.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan), for his part, described the Ayuyus as “responsible corporate partners” for their generous support to the Public School System, Saipan Little League, American Red Cross, and other local organizations.
It is the same generosity that prompted International Association of Athletics Federations to recognize McDonald's Saipan. Group representatives Ray Tebuteb and Robin Sapong presented the Ayuyus with a certificate of appreciation signed by IAAF president Lamine Diack for sponsoring the development of athletics among the island's youth.
“We had a few major sponsors but they left because of situations and opportunities. McDonald's Saipan, however, is still here and continues to be a part of our youth and family event orientations and activities and we're loving it,” said Tebuteb.
Highlighting the event was the awarding of “outstanding” vendors and suppliers who have “gone above and beyond to keep our operations smoothly,” said McDonald's Saipan's Natalie Mable Ayuyu. Representatives of Herman's Modern Bakery, Matson Navigation Company, Coca-Cola, and J.C. Tenorio Enterprises went on stage to receive their certificates and engraved acrylic model of the first McDonald's Restaurant built in Illinois in 1955 as a symbol of appreciation for their continued partnership with McDonald's Saipan over the years..
“We value the relationship that we have with each one of you and hope to continue working with you many years to come. We wouldn't be McDonald's without you,” said the eldest daughter of Joe and Marcia.
In a surprise move that night, the Ayuyus also presented a $1,000 donation each to Karidat Social Services executive director Angie V. Leon Guerrero, American Red Cross-NMI Chapter John Hirsh, and Commonwealth Cancer Association board treasurer Maggie Camacho.
Joe Ayuyu said McDonald's Saipan has long supported these chosen beneficiaries for the outstanding services they have provided within the community, expressing hope that their anniversary contribution to these organizations would help them in their quest to serve those who need it most.
Joe and Marcia Ayuyu led the cutting of the rectangular anniversary cake decorated with green icing, while guests were treated to a bountiful and delectable feast while listening to live music from Marvin Deleon Guerrero. All attendees took home a souvenir McDonald's glass tumbler, pen, and keychain.