Tom Krouse, the President and CEO of Donatos Pizza, was honored as the 2019 CEO of the Year in the Large Business category by Columbus CEO at their annual event held at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday evening.
Krouse, who has been at Donatos since 2000 and served in his current role since 2010, has been instrumental in guiding the 56-year-old family-owned business to continued growth and success during his time as only the fourth CEO in the company’s history. Donatos, which has 56 company-owned and 105 franchised restaurants located in 10 states, has experienced some its best years yet and is poised for even bigger things in 2020.
During Krouse’s time at Donatos, the company has increased its revenue by 30 percent and its profitability six-fold. Jane’s Dough Foods, a subsidiary, sells its products in 7,000 grocery stores across the U.S. and its sales are up 20 percent over the past five years. Franchising leads are at an all-time high and at least one new state – Florida – will see locations open in the new year. While Krouse has seen the company have tremendous success and he has personally received numerous accolades for his visionary leadership, he is most proud of two things – the people and the culture of Donatos.
“Having someone stay with the company and go on to either be in the home office or have their own franchise or having helped people who are maybe not as confident in themselves realize they have the ability to be the general manager of a million-dollar restaurant,” Krouse explains is his favorite things about the position as he sees people within the Donatos family realize their dreams.
Krouse is also proud of the goodwill that Donatos practices in keeping with its name which derived from Latin mean ‘to give a good thing.’ The company contributes to charities and organizations in every market that they serve with one of the largest recipients being the Reeb Avenue Center on the south side of Columbus where Donatos got its start back in 1963.
“The giving part is not just dollars into the community – and there’s hundreds of thousands of dollars that are committed – but there’s also volunteerism and then just our philosophy,” said Krouse. “When your purpose is bigger than just pizza – that’s what really excites me.”
A graduate of The Ohio State University, Krouse spent 17 years at Wendy’s before joining the family at Donatos. Prior to that, he was a partner at the marketing communications firm Daly Lewis Krouse.
The four CEO of the Year award recipients and the 12 finalists were selected through a survey of area CEOs, presidents, executive directors, managing partners and other C-suite executives. The ballots were populated by suggestions from local chambers of commerce and other business organizations.
In addition to Krouse, Joe DeLoss, the founder and head fryer of Hot Chicken Takeover was selected as the CEO of the Year in the Small Business category, Tom Katzenmeyer, the president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, was chosen as the CEO of the Year in the Large Nonprofit category, and Pat Tiberi, the president and CEO of Ohio Business Roundtable, was named the CEO of the Year in the Small Nonprofit category.