Domino’s Pizza is the world leader in pizza delivery. Whether you love their pizza or hate it … or maybe you just order it when you’re drunk, you can’t escape the ubiquitous red, white and blue Domino logo. There seems to be a domino franchise in every American city and even every few blocks overseas. It is not really far. Domino’s Pizza employs over 290,000 people in 73 countries (when you include franchises). You can get pepperoni pizza in “30 minutes or less” in 5,700 cities around the world. If you ever find yourself in Kosovo, you can visit some of the few places. Today there are around 17,000 domino locations, most of which are located in the US, UK and India. As of this writing, Domino’s has a market cap of $ 14.5 billion, with an annual income of $ 4 billion.
Domino’s Pizza Empire was born in 1960. That year two brothers Tom and James Monaghan bought a pizza restaurant in Michigan called Dominic.
Tom and James did not have an easy start in their lives. His father died when they were both very young. They bounced around their homes and orphanages when their mother could no longer support them on her own.
So where are the brothers Monaghan today? Are they sitting on private islands with boats and havelis all over the world? Absolutely not. A brother can definitely afford these luxuries. The other brother made a very bad decision…
An empire is born
Tom Monaghan famously wanted to join the army but accidentally enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served from 1956 to 1959, a honorable discharge. After leaving the Marine Corps, Tom moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he enrolled at the University of Michigan with the intention of studying architecture.
When Tom was a student, he and James bought a small pizza store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, near the campus of Eastern Michigan University. They raised the joint for a total of $ 1,400. He put down $ 500 cash and took a bank loan for the remaining $ 900.
The brothers initially planned to split the work at the pizza shop evenly, but James quickly found that it did not suit them. You see, he had a full-time job as a postman with a steady salary, benefits and pension. He cannot reasonably pay for a small pizza restaurant. Little on this decision…
In 1965, Tom Monaghan purchased two more pizzerias in the same county. Around this time, Dominique’s original owner told Tom to stop using his name on the new stores. At this point, Dominic became Domino. The same year the company was renamed Domino’s Pizza, Inc. Domino’s will remain 100% privately owned by Tom for the next 33 years.
Domino’s real innovation was its focus on delivery. While it may seem obvious and ubiquitous today, it was rare to have pizza delivered in the mid-1960s. Tom developed an innovative pizza delivery box that allows more pizzas to be delivered at once. He proceeded to expand methodically to more college cities.
On the company’s 10-year anniversary, there were 200 Domino’s Pizza locations. The company expanded outside the United States in 1983 with the opening of a location in Winnipeg, Canada.
The company touched Japan in 1985 with a location in Tokyo.
In the early 1990s, the company moved to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and across India.
As of 1995, there were 1,000 domino locations worldwide.
Two years later there were 1,500.
In 2012, the company changed its name to “Domino”.
In 2014, not only did the company expand into the country of pizza’s birth, with a location in Milan, Italy, it also surpassed 6,000 global pizza shops. By this point, India alone had 1,000 locations!
Earning a fortune
During this expansion, Tom Monaghan operated Domino’s as his personal business.
In 1998, Tom sold 93% of Domino’s Pizza to private equity firm Bain Capital (co-founded by Mitt Romney) $ 1 billion dollars.
In 2004, Domino went public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DPZ”. How has DPZ performed since 2004:
What did James Monaghan get?
If you recall earlier in our story, when the brothers bought Dominic, James had a secure job as a postman with pensions and benefits.
Given that 99% of all restaurant ventures fail, it is easy to understand James’s hesitation, abandoning the sold-out security of the postal job, first of all turning his head into the world of pizza entrepreneurship.
So as they were approaching their first year of owning Dominix, James went to Tom with an offer.
James offered Dominic to sell his 50% stake to Tom.
In return they requested compensation with the company’s largest non-pizza property: a used car. In particular, a 1959 VW bug was used that the company was using to distribute pizza.
He worked as a security guard in the 1970s and then as an electrician for a local school district in the 1980s and 1990s. He died in October 2020.
What happened to Tom Monaghan?
Tom led a wonderful life for many years.
He was the owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1992. He bought the team for $ 53 million. This is equivalent to about $ 140 million in today’s dollars. He sold the team for $ 85 million in 1992, ironically, to Mike Ilitch, founder of another pizza tycoon – Little Caesars Pizza.
Tom built a private resort on an island in Michigan with many buildings designed in a style that paid tribute to architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Tom was such a fan of Wright’s work that he once paid $ 1.6 million for a set of chairs and a dining table that was used at some point by the famous architect. He soon became the largest collector of Frank Lloyd Wright collections and accessories in the world.
He bought cars. A lot of cars. He paid $ 1 million for a model J Duesenberg. In 1986 he paid $ 8.1 million for the Bugatti Royale – one of only six in the world. He sold the car a few years later for a minor loss. He will build a collection of about 300 rare and valuable automobiles.
He bought a Gulfstream private jet, a Sarcorsky S-76 helicopter and a yacht.
And then Tom changed his life.
Tom actually decided to put the company up for sale and radically changed his life after reading a book called “My Christian Religion” by CS Lewis. The section of the book that causes Tom to know what life he was living was a proud chapter. This chapter inspired Tom to relinquish many of the symptoms of his former sublime life. He soon became one of America’s greatest philanthropists.
At its absolute peak, Tom had total assets of about $ 1 billion. He has committed to give his entire fortune.
A devout Catholic, he has used his funds to find several Catholic colleges. In 1998, he founded Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida.
In 2001 he founded Ave Maria Mutual Funds, an investment firm focused on Catholic-friendly and socially responsible investments.
Till date they have donated more than this $ 500 million For various donations.
Tom and his wife Marjorie met Domino in the early days. They met when they gave him pizza. He married and had four children, all daughters.