Building a Legacy Brand: Toppers Pizza Sees Influx of Family Duos
Whitewater, WI - November 1, 2012
WHITEWATER, WI – With the unemployment rate hovering at 8 percent through much of 2012, many Americans have been left jobless, including some of the youngest job seekers. Showcasing an emerging trend in the franchising industry, Toppers Pizza, the 47-unit pizza take-out and founder of fast casual delivered, has a large number of franchisees who share more than just a restaurant; they share the same last name.
This year, 53 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed or without a job at all. The idea of landing a dream job has all but vanished for thousands of young Americans now entering the job market. As parents see their children struggle during this difficult economic time, parents are now investing in their children’s future through opening a family business that their children can one day take over.
“With the economy still in recovery mode, parents are concerned about their children’s job security now and into the future,” said Scott Gittrich, CEO and founders of Toppers. “Over the last few years, we have begun to see more and more father-son duos joining the Toppers system as a way to build a foundation for the future of their children by creating an established business that their kids help them build and eventually run on their own.”
Franchising is a very desirable option for many. According to the International Franchising Association, the franchising industry is continuing to hold strong with a projected industry wide growth of 1.5 percent in 2012 and employment in franchise establishments to increase 2.1 percent. With franchising a much safer bet for many families looking for employment for themselves and their children, Toppers has seen more families coming to the table for opportunities.
One example of a family making an investment in franchising is the Fullarton’s, who were the first to bring Toppers to Cincinnati. After a long career at Proctor and Gamble, Bob Fullarton decided to make the leap from corporate America and open a business with sons Ricky and Dave that the whole family could be a part of. Since opening, the family has seen tremendous success, as they are the highest volume store in the Toppers franchising system.
“I wanted to open a business that we could build together with a product that we really believed in and loved,” said Bob. “I wanted to give my sons the opportunity to become successful entrepreneurs, and if we could start this together, it was a win for us all.”
Like the Fullarton’s, Myron Allen and his son, Keith Allen, began developing a plan to build a family business just last year, as they drove home from a fishing trip.
“While going to school in La Crosse, Keith had worked at Toppers and became a Toppers fanatic himself,” said Myron. “For several years after graduation, Keith dreamed of opening a location himself, so I decided to help him make it a reality.”
Shortly after, their trip, Keith and Myron settled on a location in Rochester, MN, and opened their first Toppers location this past September and shattered the all-time company weekly sales record in their first week of being open.
“I wanted to align my son with a brand that had a strong track record in the franchising industry and one that would help him find the success I knew he was capable of.” said Myron.
Along with its ability to tap into the most influential 18-34-year old demographic, Toppers has made a name for itself as innovators of unique menu items, something that draws franchisees both young and old, making it an appealing option for a family business. Toppers was the first delivery brand to capture the cheesy bread marketplace with its famous TopperstixTM, made from handmade dough topped with garlic butter and cheese. Toppers has never shied away from innovation with its Mac ‘N Cheese, Potato Topper, Cool C-B-R (Chicken-Bacon-Ranch), and Hangover Helper House Pizzas, Buffalo Wings, Q'Zas (a pizza style quesadilla), Oven-toasted Grinders, and dozens of other menu items. Differentiating itself from the competition, 70 percent of Toppers’ sales come from items not traditionally found on competitors’ menus.
Toppers’ 2012 footsteps are focused on its exponential growth plan to reach 150 restaurants by the end of 2015 and 500 by 2020. The company already has 15 new locations under contract to be built by the end of 2013, with the goal of opening a total of 30 next year. Currently, Toppers currently has 47 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Nebraska and Texas. Upcoming openings include locations in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.
With a mission to be the best pizza company in the world by killing it on every detail of the customer experience, Toppers Pizza is a 47-unit eclectic pizza delivery franchise brand, headquartered in Whitewater, WI. Toppers takes a unique approach to the crowded pizza segment by appealing to the young, and young at heart in an irreverent way that totally separates them from the competition. Ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 franchises in 2011,Toppers’ menu includes 18 house pizzas; the franchise’s signature product line Topperstix; Oven-Toasted Grinders; Buffalo Wings; Q'Zas (a pizza style quesadilla); and cold drinks. The brand has strongly established itself in Wisconsin, and is now in the midst of Midwest and then national growth. By focusing on Toppers’ demographic friendly markets, Toppers is able to continue its building of a fanatical relationship with its customer base. Toppers growth was celebrated in 2009 by Chain Store Age, an industry publication that measures quick service restaurant growth over the past five years, and ranked Toppers on their overachievers list of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Chain Restaurants in the United States. Toppers was also recognized as a member of the 2012 Future 50 by Restaurant Business, as one of the fastest growing emerging chains in America. For more information on Toppers, visit www.toppers.com.