Even though Molly Vorhees has only officially been with Becks Prime since 2006, she's been a part of the burger business all her life.
"When I was 10 years old my father, Win Campell, started Becks Prime with his partner Mike Knapp. He's an attorney by trade who got his first job at the age of 14 at Goughs, a burger joint in Dallas, and was hooked. I've watched Becks Prime grow up and have done everything from bussing tables to being a cashier, so you can say I've been in the business since I was a girl," she says.
Born and raised in Houston, Molly graduated from St. Johns High School in 1994 before heading off to Middlebury College in Vermont where she earned her degree in economics. She went to work for the Silicon Valley telecom startups TellMe and Telephia before receving her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
"To me, we're in the entertainment business. People come here to meet friends, do business and we've all got to eat so we're filling a need. It's fun to be a part of that."
"It was really after business school and my experience with these start-ups that I started thinking about returning to Houston and talking to my father about his plans for Becks Prime, which at the time was eight restaurants.
"I realized that I had a unique opportunity with the restaurants to do something that was exciting. To me, we're in the entertainment business. People come here to meet friends, do business and we've all got to eat so we're filling a need. It's fun to be a part of that."
Back in Houston, married to an author and with two young children, Voorhess is continuing to improve on the company's already solid foundation.
"We are fortunate in that we've done a lot of things well. Where we want to keep it simple is by delivering consistent great food and treating our employees and customers very well. More than 60 percent of our customers customize their orders, so its imperative we have great service," she says.
Voorhees recognizes that in the competitive restaurant industry, innovation and automation is crucial. Where she's excelled is in picking her spots.
"Where we can innovate and have, is in operations and automating as much of our infrastructure as possible. We've gone digital with our menus, started online ordering, installed screens and new POS (Point of Sales) systems at each of our locations, accounting and invoicing systems," she says. "We've modernized the company but kept the core very much intact."
One area Becks Prime won't compromise on is quality.
"It would be easy to resort to commissary cooking or to stop grinding our own chuck or let's stop grinding it all together and have someone else do it or buy frozen or put in a conveyor belt system. We're just not willing to go there with our product.
"There are certain things that we won't automate and will never give up just for the sake of growth. It's our commitment to quality and doing it the right way that has built our reputation."
The privately held company now has 12 locations throughout the Houston area and has its sights set on Dallas in the near future.
"We are well-positioned now to expand," she says. "By investing in technology and getting our back of the house systems in place, we're able to be much more efficient and effective. We are able to track everything now, communicate with our managers via email, have automatic entry so that deliveries can be made by purveyors in the middle of the night when we're not even there."
"The systems that we've spent time, money and resources putting in place are helping us be a better company and pass that along to our customers."
And most importantly, they still make a great burger.
Greg Scheinman is creator of the PBS show, PROFILE with Greg Scheinman, and an associate at Insgroup Inc., Houston's fourth largest independent insurance agency.