How Ted Turner expands his brand with Ted’s Montana Grill

New beginnings

Why not restaurants?

A look at Turner’s history shows that he is a man who is not afraid of trying new things. In January 1980, he created CNN, the first live, in-depth, round-the-clock news television network. A second all-news service, Headline News, began operation in January 1982, offering updated newscasts every half hour.

Turner then originated the Goodwill Games in 1985 as an international, quadrennial, multisport competition.

From news and sports, he turned to entertainment, and continued to build his cable empire. In March 1986, Tuner Broadcasting Station acquired the MGM library of film and television properties for a reported $1.5 billion. This library formed the initial programming cornerstone of TNT, launched in October 1988.

In December 1991, Time magazine’s then-“Man of the Year,” acquired the rights, library and production facilities of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. The Cartoon Network launched in October 1992.

Turner attributes his voracious work ethic to his experience growing up working for his father’s company.

“I worked for him when I was going to school,” Turner says. “I started working for him when I was 12 years old, and in the summer I worked at his billboard business in every area. I was a full-time employee. He paid me 20 cents an hour under minimum wage. I learned a lot. By the time I was 21, 22, I knew the billboard business inside and out, every facet of it.”

Turner’s empire took its largest jump in October 1996, when he became vice chairman of Time Warner with the merger of Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. He oversaw Time Warner’s Cable Networks division, which included the assets of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., the CNN Newsgroup, HBO, Cinemax and the company’s interests in Comedy Central and Court TV. At the time, Turner’s net worth was estimated at $9.1 billion.

Outside of his business ventures, Turner has made his mark as one of America’s most influential philanthropists. In September 1997, Turner announced his historic pledge of up to $1 billion to the United Nations Foundation. To date, he has awarded more than $575 million to the United Nations.

Turner also teamed with former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn to launch the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation dedicated to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. The Turner Endangered Species Fund works to save animals threatened by extinction, including the black-footed ferret, condors and desert bighorn sheep.

During all this, Turner, in January 2002, managed to find time to launch Ted’s Montana Grill.

“Businesses have an awful lot in common,” Turner says. “Basically, it’s the same philosophy: Customers come first, work hard, provide a great service at a competitive price, and then service the daylights out of your customers so they’re always happy that they’re getting great service. That’s the only way you can be successful over time.”