Twenty-three years ago, the taste of Papa John’s pizza enticed Matt Placatka to change jobs and join Papa John’s. Now, Matt serves as the general manager of the Highway K store in O’Fallon, Mo.

Back in 1996, 20-year-old Matt worked for a competitor. His friends who worked at Papa John’s encouraged him to come by the store to try the pizza, which Matt thought was “really good.” When he asked the store manager for more, Matt recalls the manager said, “I’ll give you a job, and you can get all you want for 50 percent off.”

Thanks to that first delicious bite of Papa John’s pizza, Matt quit his other job and became a dedicated employee of Papa John’s, first as a driver then as a shift leader. Just a few years after being promoted to general manager, Matt decided to rethink his career path, but he wanted to stay with the company. Because he liked driving, he went back to being a delivery driver.

As he pondered his future, Matt realized he had a knack for management, and he was good with people. He also knew that Papa John’s helped its employees learn skills they need to be successful. “I didn’t have a lot of direction before I started working at Papa John’s, even my father will tell you that; but they’re always trying to help you get better,” said Matt.

In 2005, he got back on the management track, and has been working as a general manager for the past 14 years. Over the years, he’s seen a lot, but there is one thing that is consistent: “Every store I’ve worked in is like a family,” said Matt.

Matt recalled an incident at his previous store in St. Peters, Mo., where a driver, who was the father of five, suddenly lost his wife in an accident. The workers pooled their money so he could take time off to help his family get through it. “It’s an awesome thing to work at a company where you see people come together to help someone in need,” Matt said.