As an entrepreneur at heart, I started and owned five of my own businesses, establishing myself as a successful businessman in the 1980s. But then, the recession hit and I lost everything. After slowly recovering financially, I began working in Northern Virginia as a pizza delivery driver. But I knew I wanted to do more.

So in 1995, after friends told me what a great company Papa John’s was, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to become a Papa John’s General Manager. After a year, I relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where with hard work, determination and great mentorship, I worked my way up from General Manager to an Operations Vice President (OVP) at Papa John’s.

After five years as an OVP, I bought five stores from Corporate Papa John’s and my local ownership story began. My passion for people, product and service has led to me owning 21 stores from Key West, Florida to Dearborn, Michigan.

Over the last two decades, Papa John’s has been more than a job to me—it gave me another chance at the American dream of running my own business and making an impact in my local community. I’ve made sure that my restaurants have been run and operated by people from all walks of life, all working hard to serve our customers and provide opportunities to make a positive impact.

We believe it is our responsibility to do better and be better. We support our local Boys & Girls Clubs and have donated a gymnasium to a local elementary school. We created mentorship programs for new hires to inspire others to own their own business. I have been fortunate enough to help seven of my General Managers to become partners in various stores and entities. Our call goes beyond the pizza—it’s about the people we impact and create opportunity for.

The truth is, my story is no different than the franchisee in the next town, state or country. With 120,000 team members and over 5,000 franchises around the world, Papa John’s is more than a brand name. It’s a community of locally-run, family-owned businesses.

That is why, as a dedicated member of the Papa John’s family, I believe we have a unique opportunity to show who we really are and find ways to be even better. As our leadership team recommits to who we are as a company, I stand proud in knowing who we already are as a family—a team of people delivering more opportunities, and stronger communities, and of course, Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.