Marco’s continues to grow after 35 years in pizza businessWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Marco’s Pizza is celebrating 35 years in business by being recognized as the fastest growing pizza chain in the U.S., based on the number of stores opened since 2007.
“We’ve established ourselves as a leading franchise in the pizza business. It has resulted in exponential growth for our brand,” said Jack Butorac, CEO of Marco’s Pizza.
Marco’s Franchising LLC has experienced a 37 percent increase in revenue growth in 2012 and is on track to have 104 new locations for 2013. With more than 1,500 new franchisees signed, the Toledo-based pizza chain expects to double its size and quadruple its store count in the next five to seven years.
Marco’s has 420 stores in 32 states, the Bahamas and Panama, and expects to top 500 stores by the end of 2014 by opening two to three stores per week. Marco’s Pizza recently ranked 11th in the “2012 Pizza Industry Top 100 Movers and Shakers” as compiled by PizzaMarketPlace.com.
Founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco, the company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to become nationally and internationally known. Giammarco still owns and operates the Marco’s stores in the Toledo area while serving as a mentor to the current management team led by Butorac, who bought the franchise in 2004.
Marco’s credits its fresh dough made daily in every store, fresh cheese that is never frozen and a secret pizza sauce recipe created by its Italian founder for its continued growth. Strong leadership and innovative marketing and operational strategies have driven the pizza franchise’s success in the marketplace, Butorac said.
The challenge of Marco’s growth is maintaining the consistency of its products, so customers get the same pizza in Atlanta or elsewhere that they would in Toledo, according to Dan O’Malley, vice president of tactical planning at Marco’s.
O’Malley said he always wanted to own his own business. After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1994, he went to work for a Marco’s franchise owner in Sandusky.
O’Malley grew up in the Marco’s pizza business; he worked in almost every position, including delivery driver, pizza maker, dishwasher, oven cleaner and janitor, before moving into marketing and management.
“I wanted to learn the business so I worked every position with the intent to open my own store, which I did in Mentor-on-the-Lake outside Cleveland,” O’Malley said.
“I became interested in making more of a contribution so I started working for the corporate office as a franchise rep for the Cleveland area in late 2004. Since I knew Jack (Butorac) as a franchisee, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me,” he said.
As director of franchise operations since 2011, O’Malley has been responsible for providing direction to the franchises’ representatives and area representative coordinators so that Marco’s franchise owners are best positioned to succeed.
O’Malley still operates the franchise in Mentor-on-the-Lake where he lives with his family. He said because he works a lot in the field, he could live almost anywhere so he works out of his office at home or at Marco’s headquarters in Toledo when he’s not traveling.
“The key is having the right people to operate the stores since Marco’s has the best product and franchise system. We look for people who can use those tools. Franchisees appreciate that I’m also a franchise owner and am protecting their interests,” O’Malley said.
He said the company sees substantial growth in the southeastern and central regions of the country for expansion in the next few years, including Georgia, Florida, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina. Marco’s has 25 stores in the Atlanta area, and has opened stores in Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota and New Jersey.
The chain recently opened stores in the San Francisco area and is looking to develop the Los Angeles area and other locations in California. O’Malley said some international interests have approached them about opening Marco’s franchises outside the U.S.
“We always want to talk to interested parties, whether they want to open one store or 100 stores,” he said.
For more information about franchise opportunities with Marco’s, visit www.marcos.com.
The company has expanded its menu for catering, which is “an emerging opportunity for us,” O’Malley said. “We’ve introduced Marco’s to a lot of new customers through the catering business.”
Another new development for Marco’s is opening stores with seating for eating on-site, especially in the South where there is more of a demand for it, O’Malley said.
“We get more positive feedback from customers than negative, mostly about the taste of the product,” he said.
O’Malley said that he’s always amazed at how many people originally from Toledo and Ohio recognize and welcome the Marco’s brand when new stores open in cities far from here.
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