Washington, D.C. – May 2, 2016 – The American Pizza Community (APC) salutes National Small Business Week with stories of pizza store owners who started out small and how the industry supports the path to ownership. There is no industry more representative of small business than that of pizza as many owners started out as hourly employees, according to the APC whose membership consists of local pizza store owners and operators as well as suppliers and vendors.
“We’re proud of the entrepreneurial spirit of the pizza industry,” said Tim McIntyre, Chair of the APC, and Executive Vice President of Communications for Domino’s Pizza. “No other business offers on-the-job training to help employees succeed and provides opportunities to seek management positions and eventually the skills to become a successful business owner,” continued McIntyre. Fifty-four percent of the nearly 73,000 pizza stores nationwide are independently-owned and operated, according to Pizza Monthly Quarterly’s 2015 State of the Pizza Industry Report.
The pizza industry contributes nearly 1 million jobs to the nation’s economy bringing employment to communities across the country through hourly employees, delivery drivers, supply vendors, and local store owners and operators.
As part of National Small Business Week the APC recognizes fellow pizza comrades for their rise from part- and full-time hourly employees to business owners.
- Christian Reisch, owner of 7 Domino's Pizza stores in the Lexington, Kentucky area, began his career in 1992 as a part-time delivery driver while serving in the Army. After transitioning back to civilian life in 1993 and continuing to deliver while going back to school, Christian realized his true dream was to own his own business. In the fall of 1997, he took on a management role, quickly climbed through the ranks to supervisor of several stores before eventually becoming an owner.
- Amy Kesecker, owner of Figaro’s Pizza in Philomath, Oregon, began working at the pizza store in high school 18 years ago and became an owner of the same store 11 years ago.
- Brad Price, owner of 15 Godfather’s Pizza restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota, started working at a local Godfather's Pizza while still in high school as an hourly employee. After graduating, Brad worked his way up through management before buying into the local franchise. Thirty-eight years later, he owns 100 percent of the company with 15 Godfather's Pizza restaurants.
- Kevin Hershock, owner of 11 Hungry Howie’s restaurants in Michigan and Indiana, started in 1982 at the age of 16 with Little Caesars washing dishes and making pizzas. In 1994, the opportunity to become an owner in Coldwater, Michigan with Hungry Howie’s was available. Today with 11 stores in west Michigan and northern Indiana, he has plans for two more.
- John and Vanessa Addis, owners of 11 Pizza Hut stores in Illinois. John began his career as a team member of the Kewanee Pizza Hut store in high school and worked in management positions for both corporate and franchise throughout college and after graduation. In 2008, he and his wife Vanessa acquired the franchise from the previous owner.
“The business model of franchising allowed me to realize my dream of owning and operating my own independent business,” said Christian Reisch.
National Small Business Week was given an official proclamation by the President of the United States in 1963 in recognition of the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.
The American Pizza Community is a coalition of the nation’s large and small pizza companies, operators, franchisees, vendors, suppliers and other entities that make up the American pizza industry. The coalition was formed in 2010 to advocate for policies affecting pizza companies and operators including menu and labeling information, fair wages, work opportunity tax credit, background checks, tax policies and small business access to capital.
Current members include Blackjack Pizza, Breadeaux Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen, CiCi's Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Figaro’s Italian Pizza, Godfather’s Pizza, Hungry Howie’s, Hunt Brothers Pizza, the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association, Little Caesars, Nick-N-Willy’s, Papa John’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Papa's Pizza To-Go, Papa Romano's Pizza, Pieology, Pizza Factory, Pizza Schmizza, and Sam & Louie's Pizza. Supplier partners include Coca-Cola, Leprino Foods Company, Middleby Marshall, Paradise Tomato Kitchens, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods. Affiliate partners include the Consortium for Common Food Names, the National Pork Producers Council and the Tomato Products Wellness Council.