For many entrepreneurs looking to partner with a franchise, family and community-based values take top priority. Donatos has always been a family business. Jim Grote founded the company in 1963, and his daughter Jane Grote serves as the Chief Purpose Officer and Executive Chairwoman of the Board today. For franchise owners, the businesses they’ve built are often passed down from one generation to the next, interweaving a culture of family and support through their day-to-day work.
This is true for Charlene Rose, Bill Stetler, and Chris and Caitlin Rose, too. They are multi-unit Donatos franchise partners out of Mansfield, Ohio, who lead the Roseler Corp franchise group. Chris’s mother, Charlene (Char) Rose caught the eye of Donatos founder Jim Grote due to Char’s work ethic and eye for customer service in the late 1980s. Jim recruited Char to come work for him at Donatos and she started the Catering department and helped to do store inspections among other things. Then, in 1991, Char and her husband, Bill Stetler, had the opportunity to become franchise partners. Because of the family’s like-mindedness with Jim’s philosophy of doing the right thing, they were able to open their first Donatos location in Marion, Ohio, with Chris serving as their operating partner.
Now, as Chris looks toward the future after more than 30 years of success running the business, his daughter, Caitlin, is preparing to take the helm of their multiple store locations. With support from Donatos and a strong foundation of family, Roseler Corp and their tenured associates’ work will be successfully passed down to Caitlin, solidifying a family legacy of pizza success that spans three generations.
A Family Worth Joining
Roseler Corp is proud to hold the distinction of being the most tenured franchise partner group. Not only have they had great longevity, they’ve also been tremendously successful. Sales at their four locations are among the best in the Donatos franchise community, and they’ve come through hard work and daily dedication to serve the best pizza and make the lives of the people in the communities that they serve better.
Chris has enjoyed a business run by many of the same employees for as long as 30 years, where connection runs deep and a family-like environment has thrived. Take Mansfield, Ohio, team member Kriste Hristovski, an associate he hired just after opening that location in 1993 and who recently celebrated her 30th work anniversary at Donatos. She prides herself on her fervent customer service and the relationships she’s built within the business and with loyal customers. Two of Chris’ general managers, Amy Owens at his Mount Vernon, Ohio location and Lisa Wynn at the Mansfield location, have been with Donatos for 30 years (Amy) and 20 years (Lisa) respectively.
Since the opening of their first Donatos location, Chris and his wife, Christina, have gone on to develop additional store locations in the neighboring areas of Mansfield, Wooster, and Mount Vernon for a total of four Donatos restaurants. Now entering a new era of future transition, daughter-turned-mentee Caitlin has begun to take the reins of the business, using the knowledge she gleaned growing up in the pizza shop, an immersive environment that ultimately guided her decision to join the family business post-college.
As Caitlin’s involvement in the business side of Donatos has grown, she works in tandem with Chris and Mark Peeples, a key associate with Roseler Corp for over 25 years, on many areas of operations work. Chris and Mark are helping Caitlin learn the business by allocating jobs to her like transferring funds, organizing insurance plans, general filing, and creating a revised, quality associate handbook. These are just a few of the areas being poured over during this time of new change.
Like Chris, Caitlin cares deeply about the relationship she has with store associates, evident through her development of anniversary cards for those who reach work milestones. She also sees social media as an area with room for development, prioritizing finding ways to feature Donatos team members in a way that makes them feel valued and celebrated.
Bringing Caitlin to the forefront of operations to eventually run the business has re-energized Chris in a myriad of ways. “She brings a lot of fresh new perspectives to the table,” Chris commented. “She’s familiar with DoorDash, for example, something I haven’t had as much experience managing. Most importantly, she has the values we want that cannot be taught.”
Support in Transitions
One of the major projects the duo is currently tackling is the remodeling of all four of the family’s Donatos locations with three of them now completed. Chris plans to not only upgrade the physical design of their stores, but bulk up operations as he looks toward the future. “With these upgrades, the goal is to set Caitlin up for future success.”
Chris has received great support from Donatos at the corporate level, with in-person check-ins for remodeling and field marketing support to continually look for new ways to grow sales. “As changes start to be made, Donatos has been helping Caitlin in the same way they helped me in the beginning,” he noted. “They’ve been with me every step of the way of this franchising journey, so I know that once Caitlin is at the helm, she’ll always be in good hands.”
Values That Align
As Chris and Caitlin work together for future business success, their mutual priority is a smooth, values-based transition. “I always want our stores to be known for living by the Golden Rule—to do the right thing and treat our people and customers with love. That is who we are, and I have confidence that Caitlin is the best fit to take the reins of the business.” While Chris has enjoyed decades of success, his best piece of advice for his protegee has been to lead with active ownership, and as the proud owner of the oldest Donatos franchise restaurant, he knows that Caitlin will go on to develop their family legacy that will benefit everyone.