Few people have the persistence and the tenacity of Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza.
His father died when he was just four years old. And because his mom was making $27.50 a week, Tom and his brother Jim spent most of their childhood in foster homes and orphanages.
In 1960, the two brothers bought a small pizza shop near the campus of Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. During the school year, business was good. But in the summer when students weren’t around sales dropped.
8 months into it, Jim decided to bail out and sold his 50% share to Tom, in exchange for Tom’s little beat-up Volkswagen Beetle.
The early years were tough. Tom got involved in a number of business fiascos that cost him a lot of money and grief. A con-artist who stole his savings by conning him into a fraudulent investment. A bad business partnership which nearly wiped him out after his partner declared bankruptcy, leaving Tom on the hook for $75,000. This was a TON of money in the 60’s.
And just as Domino’s started making profits, allowing Tom to pay off his creditors, a devastating fire burned down his main store. Causing over $150,000 in damages, with only $13,000 covered by insurance.
But none of life’s curve balls stopped Tom from pushing forward. He kept at it with 18 hour work days making pizza.
In 1967 he opened his first franchise, and many more thereafter and business flourished once again. But with fast growth comes growing pains.
Tom said – “We had over-expanded and added new stores to territories before the first stores were fully established.” In a few years Tom was out of money with over a Million in debt. By 1970 things got so bad, that he ended up losing control of the company, while still continuing to work for it.
For a period of time, Tom even slept in his car to keep down the expenses. Eventually he regained control of the company and went to work on building it back up again.
Over the years he got the company back up and paid off every creditor and vendor. While at the same time dealing with a class-action lawsuit filed by his frachisees in the early stages of those dark years. As well as a legal battle against Domino Sugar who was suing the company for trademark infringement.
But Tom Monaghan persisted, making a number of innovations such as shaving seconds off of the time to make pizzas quicker, streamlining the product line, making the business more efficient, creating a special box designed to keep pizzas hot, and the most famous one of all, Domino’s famous slogan which became their USP (unique selling proposition)… “Hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free”
Tom didn’t look any of those issues as failure. And all that eventually led to Domino’s domination of the industry.
“I feel all these setbacks were tools for me to learn from . I used them as stepping-stones and didn’t see them as failures. A failure is when you stop trying and I never did that.” – Tom Monaghan
In 1980’s Tom realized his childhood dream, and bought the Detroit Tigers baseball team for $53 Million. Winning a World Series in his first season as an owner.
In 1998, Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza and retired as one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth of over $600 Million.
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