Vincent dishes on being a third-generation owner and company culture
The family-owned pizza company operates 11 units in the greater Cleveland, Ohio, area, with two more units opening soon. Antonio’s recently received the 2015 Family Business Achievement Award from Smart Business Cleveland.
On being a third-generation owner — My preparation goes back to my childhood. I grew up in a pizzeria and saw a lot, and my father and grandfather taught me a lot. I remember many conversations with my grandfather over a glass of wine after a long day of managing the store. He was grooming me, teaching me, sharing his wisdom of hard work, honesty and integrity. My grandfather (our founder) started to pass the business to my father and my uncle. Seven years into their partnership, my uncle wanted to do something different and put his location up for sale. It was then that my brother and I saw an opportunity to partner with our father and lead the direction of the company.
On its family-ownership model — Many advantages. A few years back, our company started to function with a corporate mindset and though there are many advantages of corporate structure, it just didn’t work for us. During that time, we experienced very little growth in sales, store openings and team building. We decided to go back to the family structure and saw immediate results. Same-store sales are up 15 percent and we have more store openings and projects planned than ever before. Running our business as a family is much more productive, decisions are made faster and are more genuine and projects are completed faster. We see faster, more effective team building because we are involved in the hiring and the new hires are people that fit our culture of hard work and values. Although franchising can be a great way to grow a business, we prefer to keep it one big family. Many franchisors can try to say that all their franchisees are one big family but it just isn’t true.
Family is the structure and culture. Our employees are family. We laugh with them, we cry with them, we celebrate with them, we even argue with them. We have found the best way to incentivize them is to treat them like family and listen to their ideas because our business is best directed by good ideas, not hierarchy. We also encourage our team members to better their lives. Our company has a mission statement: To deliver exceptional restaurant experiences by building an organization where people are inspired to better their lives. We pay well. Many of our management team receive company cars and other great benefits.
On staying true to values of a family business with multiple units — People and product. You need super stars to create super products, and super products make our traditions. Good people want to work with good people and people that don’t fit our culture of hard work usually weed themselves out. We invest in the development of our staff in many ways. Currently we are partnering with a great resource called RightNOW Media@Work, a media library to help our team members with things like relationships, marriage, parenting, leadership, recovery, personal finances, physical and spiritual health. It even has great content for our team members’ children. Our team is the future of the business and if we don’t invest in their future and their well being, how can we expect our future to look bright?