It almost doesn’t seem possible that today marks my second anniversary of starting to work for Donatos. It seems like just yesterday that I came to the home office on Taylor Station Road in Gahanna for my first day, but yet at the same time it also seems like I’ve been here for so much longer.
The first year was all about getting my feet wet, learning the culture and getting to know the great people who make up the Donatos family from the talented home office associates to the successful franchise partners we work with every day.
It is so much fun to look back on the second year and reflect on how much I have grown in my position as a field marketing manager over the past 365 days as well as reminiscing on some of the special moments that occurred during the year.
First of all, our raving fans deserve tremendous praise for the way they supported us during 2015. Our 2014 fiscal year had been one of the best in company history and we topped it again in 2015. Not only is this a testament to the great product that we make and the hard work of all the associates who work at every level to put us in a position for success, it still boils down to our guests choosing to spend their money on the products that we make and allowing us to be a part of so many special events and moments in their lives. For that, we all say a huge THANK YOU!
I had the awesome opportunity during the summer of 2015 to represent Donatos as the person implementing our 13-week Summer of Your Life campaign. This was a weekly contest where our guests could sign up by text or email to enter for an opportunity to win $1,000. The really cool part of this contest was that each winner would then select the charity of their choice to which Donatos would also make a $1,000 donation. It was so much fun drawing the number of the person from the thousands of entries and making the phone call which usually involved a lot of disbelief until I was finally able to convince them that they had really won. There were too many cool stories to list here, but it was such an honor and a privilege to represent this great company and watch as we collectively made a difference.
Another fun moment for me during this past year was representing Donatos before an Ohio State home football game at a Buckeyes Care event that saw 2,000 people enjoy our pizza and other activities before then taking in the OSU game against Western Michigan. It was fun to see so many kids excited to go to their very first game…and I was one of them! After nearly 44 years, I also was able to walk into Ohio Stadium and watch the Buckeyes post a victory. We were able to be a part of providing both a great lunch and a great opportunity for so many that day…it was great!
As the calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, much of my time has been spent helping with the opening of our newest store in Nashville, Tenn. Up until that point, I had not been part of a new store opening, so once again I was learning a bunch of new information and tactics. I have to say that it has been a great experience for me personally to go through this process as I had the opportunity to work some people who up to this point I had not gotten to know. It is amazing the amount of talent that we have in our company and the passion with which our associates do their jobs. While there were many speed bumps along the way to opening day for that store, seeing the outpouring of love and support from our raving fans once again reminded me why I choose to do this job every day!
With as many trips to Nashville as I made during the last quarter of this year, it has almost become like a second home to me. Such a fun city filled with great people. And we are working hard to make all of them Donatos raving fans. I definitely want to say a big thanks to Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN for their support of the new store there and especially all of the Donatos Nashville love they have spread via their social media accounts. It is invaluable! I also really appreciate the relationships that have developed with Kim Alexander and the great staff at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End location…they have become like family and it has become my favorite place to stay while traveling for work. Once again, it is all about the relationships. And having really good pizza always helps with getting them started. 🙂
All of this work has not taken away from my running. In fact, I have used running to make new friends in the places that I visit who in turn I convert into Donatos fans. I did not log as many miles running this year, but that was due to spending 12 weeks in a boot after breaking my foot in August. It was still a great year from a running perspective as I had the opportunity to complete my first Boston Marathon and then followed that up by running my first 50K. I did miss out on six races during the time that I was recovering from the injury, but I finished this work year strong with an 18-mile run in Nashville the morning of our VIP party prior to that store opening. I have run with the Brentwood Breakfast Club and the Nashville Striders while in town as well as total strangers and a Vanderbilt ROTC group. Running actually helps me get to know the areas around our stores better than driving around them in a car.
As I start my third year today, I already have 3 trips planned over the next three weeks which will have me visiting our stores in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky as well as the site for our next new store in Summerville, S.C. It is going to be an extremely busy year with lots of new adventures and some new cities. Buckle up and join me on the journey!