Igor Finkler hurries around his store, ringing up customers at the counter, mopping up a tiny spill on the floor and personally greeting everyone who walks through the door. “It’s kind of overwhelming,” he says. “You start to do something and then something else and something else …” That’s a typical day for Finkler, who owns the 7-Eleven on East Campbell, but the hard work is nothing new for the guy who spent the last 10 and a half years delivering food to the convenience stores all over North Dallas.
Finkler’s life began to change last October when his general manager asked him to participate in a documentary about the company while training a new third-shift employee. “I trained that guy all night long,” Finkler says. “The next day, it comes out that he’s the CEO of the company.” It was all part of the CBS reality show, “Undercover Boss,” in which corporate executives pose as low-level employees to see how the company really operates. 7-Eleven’s Joe DePinto didn’t find any dirt on Finkler but instead gave him the keys to his own store, waving all franchise fees. “That was the most shocking moment of my life,” Finkler says. “I was totally speechless.”
Finkler immigrated to America from Kazakhstan in 1994 to escape the oppressive government. He spoke no English and knew nothing about U.S. culture. It was like being deaf and mute, he says. Educated as an engineer in Russia, he took a job at 7-Eleven, living paycheck to paycheck. But it has all paid off, he says. “From the first time I stepped foot in this country, I prayed,” Finkler says. “I will make sure we succeed. I will take care of my customers. I will take care of my store.”
The “Undercover Boss” episode aired on Feb. 21, watch it on cbs.com/primetime/undercover_boss
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