The Story of Thomas Monaghan (Founder of Domino’s Pizza)


Thomas Stephen Monaghan founder of Domino’s Pizza ( largest pizza seller worldwide in terms of sales) was born 25-Mar-1937 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

After the demise of his father, when Thomas was age four, his mother had some difficulties in raising he and his brother James as a single parent.

Hence by the time Monaghan was six, in 1943 the burden was too much that he and his younger brother James ended up in an orphanage until 1949 when their mother assumed custody of them again.

The orphanage St. Joseph Home for Children in Jackson, Michigan was runned by the Felician Sisters of Livonia, where Thomas was inspired in his Catholic faith devotion.

He was so inspired that he later enrolled in the St. Joseph’s Seminary, in Grand Rapids with the aim of becoming a priest.

However, he was not able to complete his studies at the seminary because of some disciplinary issues. He later joined the US Marine corps for 3 years where he gained a better sense of discipline.

The Beginning of Domino’s Pizza

Monaghan returned to Michigan in 1959 after he was discharged from the Marin Corps. He then enrolled in the near by University of Michigan to pursue architecture where he was greatly influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

While still in school, Thomas and his brother James borrowed $900 with which they bought a small pizza store called DomiNick’s in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The plan was to use the profits from the business to fund his education. However, the the business was having series of financial crisis that Thomas decided to drop out of school and focus on the business instead.

In his own words; “I started out in architecture school, and got into the pizza business to pay my way through school,” but “The pizza business was losing so much money I never got back into architecture.”

On the other hand, after expanding to three other stores, Thomas’s brother James traded his half(50%) of the business to him for the Volkswagen Beetle they used for pizza deliveries.

Since he could not quit his full time job as a postman and be fully committed to the demands of the business.

By this time, Thomas changed the name of the business from DomiNick’s to Domino’s Pizza Inc. a name he gladly welcomed which was suggested to him by one of his workers.

He met his wife Marjorie Zybach,while delivering a pizza, and they got married in 1962 and have four daughters: Margaret, Susan, Mary and Barbara.

Thomas focused on delivery of pizza to campuses and dropped sand witches from the menu. He then invented a new insulated box that keeps the pizza warm t and able to support the load of multiple pizzas without the pizzas getting smashed.

Monaghan leveraged of his efficient delivery and a well managed franchising system to establish about 200 store in the US by 1978. And by the mid 1980’s almost 3 new franchises were opened everyday.

Dominos Pizza opened it’s first international store in Winnipeg, Canada on May 1983, the same year it opened its 100th. Currently Domino’s pizza is in 84 countries and still counting.

Purchase of the Detroit Tigers

While running the Pizzeria , Thomas was involved in other business, like buying the Detroit Tigers,his hometown baseball team after he made some fortune in the Pizza business. However , after running the team for a while he sold out to another Pizza baron Mike Ilitch who happens to already own the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.

Sale Of Domino’s Pizza

35 years after being the founder and CEO of Domino’s in 1998, Thomas Monaghan sold his 93% stock ownership of the business to Bain capital for approximately $1 billion. Still holding on to 7% ownership of the company.

As may be anticipated, the company under Bain capital management did not do so well that in 2001 Monaghan was compelled to return Domino’s as CEO holding 7% ownership.

Domino’s quickly got back on track and by 2004 was able to meet the requirements to trade on the New York stock exchange.

Thomas also established Catholic colleges namely Ave Maria College and Ave Maria School of Law in Ypsilanti and Florida.

In 2011 Monaghan resigned from all leadership positions in the college, and decided to venture in the food industry again by starting Gyrene Burger in his adopted hometown of Naples, Florida. With the justification that hamburgers are more popular than Pizza. But as at August 2018 non of the hamburger stores are in operation.

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