Recognized for outstanding service to his business, team, and country as a combat veteran, Marco’s Pizza multi-unit franchise owner Joe Walker was recently announced the winner of the Veteran Entrepreneurship Award Category for the 2019 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference and Magazine Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards.
The Multi-Unit Franchisee Conference and Magazine MVP Awards honor the best and the brightest multi-unit franchisees - the power operators, the innovators, the creative thinkers who have demonstrated outstanding performance in growing both their organizations and their brands. The Veteran Entrepreneurship Award is earned by a veteran and top performing multi-unit franchise owner who has paved the way to success for their business. As the owner of 19 Marco’s Pizza locations across South Carolina, Walker’s smart and aggressive leadership exemplified the qualities of this recognition.
“Deciding to enlist in the U.S Army made me the leader I am today,” Walker says. “Serving alongside some of America’s finest for over eight years, I learned how to manage a team to protect lives and represent the best values of the United States. It was with this experience I have been able to lead an amazing team within my business and move the Marco’s brand toward success.”
Walker’s dedication to his country and his community also played a large role in receiving the award. Most recently, he went above and beyond for a Marco’s Pizza customer and donated $10,000 to go towards a hypertension implant. Walker has also shut down one of his stores for multiple days to make over 2,000 pizzas for families in need throughout his community.
Walker’s dedication to the Marco’s brand is matched by his dedication to the Unites States, another reason why Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine wanted to award recognition. Walker’s served in the U.S Army from 2004 to 2008 and in the U.S Army National Guard from 2008 to 2012. In addition to leading operations in the hot spots of Iraq, Walker received many awards and citations for his leadership and management skills and earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery.
Marco’s Pizza is committed to supporting military veterans and offers a discount on the franchise fee to veterans’ candidates. The brand has also developed a special outreach program to facilitate passionate, disciplined leaders’ entry into the Marco’s management and apprenticeship pipeline. Military veterans can enter at general manager level and receive extensive training for Marco’s Pizza locations nationwide.
“The Marco’s Pizza family has always welcomed U.S. Veterans with open arms to let them achieve their greatest entrepreneurial ambitions,” says Tony Libardi, president and Chief Operating Officer of Marco’s Pizza. “As a veteran myself, it is always incredible to see fellow soldiers like Joe Walker get the recognition they deserve. Marco’s Pizza truly sees the value in hiring veterans as they bring a unique skill set of leadership, accountability, teamwork and self-discipline. Veterans understand the importance of structured operating systems as it is ingrained in them to do so from day one in the military. We believe there is a direct correlation to success in the military and success at Marco’s Pizza”
Opening a new store every three to four days, Marco’s Pizza is committed to increasing that pace significantly in 2019, and aims to have 1,500 locations open by late 2020. As the only national pizza franchise chain founded by a native Italian, Marco’s Pizza has carved out a niche in the industry for authentic Italian quality pizza, known for its fresh dough made daily onsite, a proprietary cheese blend that is fresh, never-frozen, and a secret original pizza sauce recipe from its founder Pat Giammarco.
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