Donatos Pizza CEO Announces Retirement
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Donatos Pizza CEO Announces Retirement

Tom Krouse to Retire in October after Twenty-Four Years of Transformation and Growth

May 02, 2024 // Franchising.com // COLUMBUS, Ohio - Donatos Pizza today announced the upcoming retirement in October of its Chief Executive Officer, Tom Krouse. Kevin King, who has served as President of Donatos Pizza for the past two years, will assume the role of CEO and President upon Krouse’s retirement. This well-planned succession ensures a smooth handover and continued success for the brand, built on the strong foundation of family values.

A Family Affair: Honoring Tradition & Building on Success

Krouse joined Donatos Pizza in 2000 after 18 years at Wendy’s. Before becoming President and CEO in 2010, Krouse oversaw Donatos Pizza’s franchise expansion and development of the brand’s retail division, Jane’s Dough Premium Foods. Throughout his career, his decisions transcended strategy; they were deeply rooted in the ideals established by the founder of Donatos Pizza, Jim Grote. Krouse ensured these core values – a commitment to community, fostering a family atmosphere within the company, and delivering exceptional customer service – were all key parts of the Donatos Pizza experience.

“I feel like the luckiest guy alive to have had the opportunity to lead a company with amazing people and an awesome mission,” said Tom. “I’m truly honored. I am so happy for Kevin and Donatos because he is the perfect choice to take this company into the future.”

Beyond Krouse’s unwavering commitment to the brand’s values, he will also be remembered for his remarkable leadership in expanding the Donatos Pizza footprint. Under his guidance, Donatos Pizza has achieved the following:

  • Company has doubled in size.
  • Franchise system has grown from 10 partners to 45 partners.
  • Chain named one of five innovative restaurant brands recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News with a 2023 CREATORS Award.
  • Average unit sales 60% higher than pizza industry average.
  • Franchise satisfaction rating 13 points higher than franchise benchmark.

“When Jane and I promoted Tom to President and CEO, we knew we were about to embark on a new chapter of growth and innovation,” said Jim Grote, Founder of Donatos Pizza. “Tom’s leadership and passion have had a profound impact on our family business. He has been a living example of our philosophy of Agape Capitalism by leading with love, living the Golden Rule, and always striving to do the right thing. He believes in the possible and clearly sets strategy and vision for the future. Tom’s creative approach to growth is deep-rooted in his belief of ‘saying yes until there is a reason to say no.’ He has built a solid foundation for a prosperous future.”

“I have had the distinct advantage and privilege of witnessing firsthand Tom’s drive, innovative thinking, and unwavering passion for our people-first culture from the personal side as his wife and from the business side as his colleague,” said Jane Grote Abell, Donatos Pizza Chief Purpose Officer and Chairwoman of the Board. “Family has been the heart and soul of our business since 1963, and Tom has embodied this throughout his tenure. He has not only been a remarkable leader, but also a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Tom’s impact will continue to resonate, shaping the foundation of our company for generations to come.”

A Familiar Face Takes the Helm

Succeeding Krouse is Kevin King, a longtime friend of the family who has a rich history with the Donatos Pizza brand, having served as VP of Development from 1990 to 2003. King’s early career was spent at Domino’s Pizza, serving in operations, then multi-unit supervision, and finally in international operations in Australia. Prior to rejoining Donatos Pizza as President in 2022, King solidified his expertise in the pizza industry at Papa Murphy’s. While serving as Senior Vice President of Operations and as Chief Development Officer, he led the strategic and tactical aspects of the successful expansion of the world’s largest take-n-bake pizza chain. King then served as Chief Development Officer at Smoothie King International for almost six years, expanding the fast-growing chain throughout the US and internationally.

“Tom’s leadership and counsel since rejoining Donatos has been nothing short of exceptional,” said Kevin King. “He’s been a phenomenal mentor and a true friend. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from him and build upon his legacy. Together, with our talented and diverse leadership team, I’m excited to continue to elevate Donatos’ reputation for delicious food, strong community ties, and an unwavering commitment to our values.”

Building on a Solid Family Foundation for Continued Growth

King’s vision for the future prioritizes growth and innovation. He plans to leverage the brand’s robust foundation and core values to expand its reach while remaining true to its heritage. Furthermore, King and Krouse have proactively cultivated a talented leadership team, ensuring a well-rounded perspective as Donatos Pizza embarks on its next chapter.

"Jim and I have complete confidence in Kevin as the perfect leader for Donatos in our next chapter of growth," said Jane Grote Abell. "Kevin has demonstrated a genuine commitment to fostering our people-first culture, upholding our mission and core values as his first priority. His extensive expertise in operations and growth within the franchise industry, paired with his deep understanding of our company mission and values, make him the ideal person to continue building upon the legacy that Tom has built."

About Donatos Pizza

Donatos Pizza, founded by Jim Grote in 1963, is known for their famous thin crust pizzas loaded with toppings spread Edge to Edge®. With 468 locations in 28 states, Donatos and its franchise partners operate 178 traditional restaurants in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Oklahoma. Donatos’ products are also proudly served in 290 non-traditional locations (276 locations with Red Robin, nine sports and entertainment venues, and five REEF Kitchens). For more information, visit www.donatosfranchise.com.

SOURCE Donatos Pizza

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Media Contact:

Betty Anne Richardson
Franchise Elevator PR
(P) 847-945-1300 ext. 245
brichardson@franchiseelevator.com

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