Marco's Pizza® Multi-Unit Franchisee Kal Gullapalli Named 2023 Franchisee of the Year by International Franchise Association
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Marco's Pizza® Multi-Unit Franchisee Kal Gullapalli Named 2023 Franchisee of the Year by International Franchise Association

From Wall Street to Building a Pizza Empire, Entrepreneur Solidifies Position as Industry Leader with Nation's Fastest-Growing Pizza Brand*

March 02, 2023 // // TOLEDO, Ohio - Marco's Pizza, the nation's fastest-growing pizza brand*, announces one of its successful multi-unit franchisees, Kal Gullapalli, as the recipient of the International Franchise Association's (IFA) prestigious Franchisee of the Year Award. The annual recognition honors a select group of franchisees who have demonstrated excellence within the franchise community as an outstanding franchise establishment owner-operator.

The Franchisee of the Year Award recognizes leading franchise owners from IFA member brands whose outstanding performance and contributions help protect, enhance, and promote the franchise business model. Individuals are selected for their service to their communities, fostering a strong and vibrant workforce, opening the doors for career growth and entrepreneurship, and supporting their fellow franchisees.

"I am extremely humbled to receive this recognition and honored to represent Marco's Pizza and its franchise community," said Gullapalli. "When I joined this system, I knew I didn't want to just open one store. My vision was to build a pizza empire while also giving others the tools and resources to become leaders. Hiring a great team and investing in their professional development has played a key role in my success. With 48 locations currently open across the Southeast, we're well on our way to achieving a 100-plus store portfolio by 2025. The future is bright with Marco's Pizza."

After spending seven years working on Wall Street, Gullapalli made the shift into entrepreneurship, opening several food concepts. His journey within franchising began in 2016 and he quickly found his stride as a successful multi-brand, multi-unit operator who is now paving the way as a stand out performer in the Marco's Pizza franchise system. As a diverse, multi-brand owner, Gullapalli has built his success around prioritizing growth, community, and investing in the next generation of leaders.

"Kal embodies our mission and vision down to his core, and is a prime model for our system," said Tony Libardi, Co-CEO & President of Marco's Pizza. "When looking for new franchisees to partner with, we make it a priority to align with someone who is not afraid to go the extra mile to develop their team. Kal's ability to empower his team and contribute to his community has not gone unnoticed."

For Gullapalli, the secret to mega growth entrepreneurship has lied within hiring, developing, and trusting a great team. After making strategic hires, he further invests in their development so they have the opportunity to grow and expand their skillsets. Gullapalli commits to teaching and empowering his team, knowing they are essential as he looks to continue to scale.

"Franchisee of the Year recipients represent the best in franchising," said Matthew Haller, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association. "This is the highest honor IFA awards to individual franchisees, and local business owners like Kal exemplify the power of franchising and its positive contributions to communities around the world."

Alongside franchisee recognition, Marco's continues to receive brand achievements and accolades: Ranking in Newsweek's 2023 America's Best Customer Service in the pizza chains category, earning a spot on QSR's Top 50 – ranking No. 1 in the pizza category for guest satisfaction, claiming the No. 51 spot on Entrepreneur's 2023 Franchise 500® ranking, and appearing six consecutive years on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious Top 500 ranking.

At the crux of Marco's ongoing growth is its renowned high-quality pizza which has provided the basic foundation to scale. Nation's Restaurant News Top 500 Report shows Marco's achieved the highest percent year-over-year sales change (+18.2%) when compared to the nation's top 4 pizza brands, making Marco's the No. 5 pizza brand in systemwide sales in America**. Now, Marco's has its sights set on becoming the No. 4 brand in pizza as it experienced a 12.8% increase in year-over-year Average Unit Volume (AUV), and the Top 50% of Marco's franchised stores generated $1,198,201 AUV for 2021***.

With vast territories across the country, company leadership has identified 4,200 potential U.S. locations. Marco's provides a full development support system, including technology and tools to help identify the right territories for expansion plus expertise in financing, real estate, construction management, and field operations, to assist franchisees and multi-unit operators.

For more information on Marco's Pizza franchise opportunities, visit or call 866-731-8209 to speak with Shannon Iverson, Vice President of Franchise Sales.

About Marco's Pizza

Marco's Pizza is one of America's Top 10 Favorite QSR Brands according to the 2022 Market Force Information Study. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco's Pizza is the fastest-growing pizza brand in the United States*. Marco's was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale ("Pat") Giammarco and thrives to deliver a high-quality pizza experience, known for its dough made from scratch and its three fresh signature cheeses. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,100 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco's Pizza was ranked No. 51 on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2023 "Franchise 500" ranking. Other recent accolades include a high ranking on Newsweek's 2023 "America's Best Customer Service" in pizza chains list, ranked No. 40 on QSR's Top 50 and has been featured six consecutive years on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious "Top 500" ranking.

About the International Franchise Association

Celebrating over 60 years of excellence, education, and advocacy, the International Franchise Association (IFA) is the world's oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations, and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising and the approximately 790,492 franchise establishments that support nearly 8.4 million direct jobs, $825.4 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy, and almost 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). IFA members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, individual franchisees, and companies that support the industry in marketing, law, technology, and business development.

*Marco's Pizza is the fastest-growing pizza brand based on year-over-year unit growth, according to 2021 NRN Top 500 U.S. Restaurant Ranking LSR Pizza Segment.

**Marco's is now the 5th largest pizza brand in systemwide sales, according to 2021 NRN Top 500 US Restaurant Ranking LSR Pizza Segment."

***Based on the Average Unit Volume of the top 50% of our Franchised Stores for fiscal year 2021. Based on fiscal year 2021, 146 of 389 Franchised Stores in the category (38%) met or exceeded this average. This information appears in Item 19 of our current FDD – please refer to our FDD for complete information on financial performance. Results may differ. There is no assurance that any franchisee will perform as well.

SOURCE Marco's Pizza


Media Contact:

Kelly Hammond
Fishman PR

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