Original Date Posted: Mar 01, 2012
By: Susan Lane

Entrepreneurs have many times, taken old, established products or services, designed new marketing or packaging techniques and created entirely new markets and demands.

One good example of this is the story of Tom Monaghan, the developer of Domino’s Pizza. While attending an Inc. Magazine conference many years ago, I had the distinct honor of meeting Tom Monaghan and hearing him tell a crowd of eager entrepreneurs the fascinating story of how he began and grew Domino’s Pizza. His speech was both amusing and heartwarming as so many of us related so well to the trials and tribulations he experienced while working in his business.


In 1960, Tom and his brother James purchased a small pizzeria named Dominick’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan for $500 with an $80 down payment. After a year James wanted out and Tom bought his share with a ten-year-old Volkswagen auto because the pizzeria could not support both of them. Tom was, by his own admission a most unlikely candidate to become a leader in the business world, with a vision of thousands of outlets for his products and the owner of immense wealth.


Tom was an orphan reared in a Catholic orphanage by nuns, a college drop out with no business experience and no startup capital. In spite of his background and his lack of experience, Tom was able to take the ordinary pizza, a staple of many diets and create a new demand for pizza by delivering it to homes within thirty to forty minutes. Because of his local success he was able to inspire people in other locations to buy franchises of Domino’s. Tom emphasized his inexperience in business to tell the story of how after he had the business for a year, the state of Michigan tax department sent someone to find out why he had not paid any sales tax and that was the first time Tom learned he must charge sales tax on his products.


His delivery of pizza was soon copied by other companies nationwide but that did not keep Domino’s from growing to over 8,000 units worldwide. He not only became extremely wealthy but inspired others to do the same. He created a new industry, creating jobs and new wealth for many people. Tom has since sold his company for over a billion dollars and spends his time and money helping Catholic charities around the world.