My first 10 years in this business took place on [New York’s] Madison Avenue, where I worked for blue-chip consumer packaged goods brands like General Mills and Gatorade. Then I moved on to Domino’s. I joined Marco’s as CMO a little over three years ago. My goal was to catapult a great brand to the top.

For me, Marco’s has always been a sleeping giant in terms of being able to powerfully demonstrate its differentiators. So I wanted to create a brand that understood its tremendous differentiation. My second goal was to truly get out of the coupon-driven world and move into the digital marketplace. I also wanted to get the brand to one POS system that included our app. Then, the last part of my vision, which I continue to push, was putting the right team and partners in place who would be on the same page moving forward.

In the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, we were trying to find our way through. But we had some good, strong numbers already in place; we had that strong POS and ordering platform that we’ve been building for the last three years; and we had synergies in our communications across all fronts.

First things first, we needed to let people know we were still open. Thankfully we had a national advertising campaign and we were able to pivot very quickly with our agency and bring a brand new message to the table. We were able to portray that not only are we open, but we also are serving America’s most beloved pizza, cooked at 450 degrees, served via contactless delivery, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we take care of our customers.

A lot of my responsibilities center on moving Marco’s to the future. What do we look like three years from now? And how do we get set up for the changing world? The challenge is that we’ve got to be faster than ever. Customers are not as engaged with coming in and sitting down, they’re doing more in a hurry. They want mobile and cashless experiences. We have to adapt rapidly. And we are poised and ready for that.

What was your first job?

My first real job was cleaning swimming pools. I loved the flexibility; I could clean about 20 pools a week during the day and play college baseball at night.

What’s your favorite menu item at Marco’s?

I’ve always loved Marco’s Old World Pepperoni. The Pepperoni Magnifico is my favorite pizza.

What’s your favorite cuisine aside from pizza?

A steak and a good glass of red wine or Mexican food with a good margarita.

Who inspires you as a leader?

Growing up, my father coached us and he was not easy—very demanding. But you learned to love that about him.

What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear?

Restaurant executives need to truly listen to customers and their needs, which are changing every day.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

Golf and philanthropy. I’m also involved with former “Today Show” correspondent Mike Leonard on a documentary about the legendary University of Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson.

Start to Finish: What Inspires Execs, Story, Marco's Pizza