Armed with a storied history in the pizza industry, Wayne Byers continues to disrupt the way people think about pizza by bringing more stores to North Carolina.
What do Scott Gittrich, Wayne Byers and countless other Toppers Pizza executives and franchisees have in common? They’re all pivotal in helping Toppers Pizza redefine and dominate the competitive pizza industry. And all of them used to work for Domino’s—arguably one of the biggest brands that Toppers is contending against as they fight their way to the top.
In 1984, Gittrich delivered his very first pizza as a driver for Domino’s. That job was the beginning of a lifelong love affair, and from that moment on, he knew he was destined to one day own his own pizza business. As Gittrich worked his way up the Domino’s ranks, he started saving as much money as any 20-something could. Then, with $30,000 in tow, he walked to a bank, applied for a loan and took a deep breath. His long-time dream had culminated into this single moment. Gittrich took a chance, and he left behind his job as director of operations for Domino’s (where he managed 22 franchise locations) to open his first Toppers in Champaign, Illinois.
“The founding vision of Toppers was to be the quality pizza delivery place. We would make our dough from scratch, use great ingredients and make funky combinations of pizzas using unique toppings. We wanted to be the antithesis of Domino’s, while still delivering just as fast—if not faster—as the corporate joints making cheap, homogenous pizza,” Gittrich said.
Gittrich’s journey has paved the way for many more Toppers leaders in the years to follow. Upon graduating college, Byers became a Domino’s store manager, with his sights set on one day owning a franchise. After successfully working his way to partner of a 55-store Domino’s franchise, he left the brand behind to pursue a fresh, new concept that offered him greater development potential. That’s when he read about Toppers in a pizza industry publication. To Byers, this emerging and exciting brand represented the ultimate opportunity—a growing company with a unique take on traditional menu items.
Upon signing with Toppers, Byers made it a priority to bring these exclusive Toppers favorites to the Chapel Hill, North Carolina community. Toppers was the first delivery brand to capture the cheesy-bread marketplace with its famous Topperstix. The brand never shied away from innovation either. With unconventional toppings like French fried onions, tater tots, pulled pork and Mac ‘N Cheese, Byers’ decision to leave behind his 55 Domino’s store to start from scratch with Toppers was an easy one.
Today, he owns two stores, and he recently partnered with another franchisee to open three additional stores in the Raleigh, North Carolina area—two of which are already under construction. And in the years ahead, Byers hasn’t ruled out future development. In fact, due to his strong belief in Toppers’ potential, he sees himself eventually spreading even more locations throughout the state of North Carolina.
“Many established pizza companies have reached maturity—it’ll be hard for them to ever change. I wanted to experience professional growth with an emerging brand. Toppers has carved its own path in the crowded marketplace, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Byers said. “I believe that one day, Toppers will become a true national brand.”