Tom Curtis '81: From delivery driver to Domino's Pizza Executive VP
Before the days of GPS navigation, Tom Curtis '81 was just another pizza delivery driver in search of tips. The Christ School alumnus got to know Atlanta well, hurriedly mapping out his route from one stop to another. And look at where all those deliveries took him. Domino's Pizza announced in July that Curtis was its new Executive Vice President of Team USA. At the time, that move placed him in charge of 396 company-owned stores across the country. Curtis also oversees Domino's operations innovation and global store training teams. Curtis took a break from his busy schedule to discuss not only working for Domino's – the largest pizza company in the world based off global retail sales – but growing up as "a faculty brat." Curtis' father, Thomas Sr., was known to Greenies as "Doc Curtis" and formerly taught World Languages and English here.
Question: Obviously, your career ascension is a remarkable story. How did you get introduced to Domino's, and where did it go from there?
Answer: I was delivering pizza during college and really just trying to pay the bills. (Atlanta's Emory University) was an expensive place and I had to make money to make ends meet. The company was very entrepreneurial – you could become an owner for very little money down and Domino's was very willing to help you get started. I took advantage of that when I graduated from Emory. My dad said, "What are you going to do?" and I thought about other things, but I just fell in love with the company. To own a Domino's, you have to be a manager for a year so I did that for a year and a half (in Atlanta). From there, I found some seed money and someone who believed in me. I started out as an owner in New Haven, Connecticut, and we were up to our eyeballs in debt in the beginning.
Question: You've been in your current role for about nine months. I'm sure it's a pretty broad answer, but can you describe your responsibilities as Executive Vice President of Team USA?
Answer: There are 400 restaurants that I am accountable for. It's not a very large number, but it's a platform for us to try and evolve the business model. A day in the life is really trying to motivate and support 11,000 people. That's a big part of my job and we have various processes and mechanisms to do that. We test all of our ideas, we find solutions, and then we launch them. We're launching a learning management system in our stores at the moment.
Question: I have to imagine it's neat traveling and seeing how so many different locations and employees are in sync?
Answer: For me, that's the best part of my job. I literally started as a driver and I meet people every day, whether it is the corporate stores or the franchise stores, who have the same dreams and ambitions. And it's a good feeling to know we still have a system that is designed and built to help them reach their potential.
Question: When you look back, what do you remember about your time at Christ School?
Answer: Attending Christ School was absolutely the most meaningful and formative experience of my life. Second to my parents, nothing has had a more positive impact on who I am. I really mean that from the bottom of my heart. I learned what success is like, I always learned how to rebound from failure. I learned to stand on my own, but also the value of membership. There were so many people there who were vested in your success. The investment that faculty members put into the kids at Christ School has given me the same commitment to the people I work with now. The things I learned through sports and academics really set me on a good trajectory. I am eternally grateful.