Michael LaMarca is a 2018 Northeast Ohio Smart 50 honoree
Michael LaMarca discovered his passion for pizza when he was a young boy shadowing his mother at her job at a local pizza shop.
“I kind of grew up in a pizza shop,” says the owner and CEO of Master Pizza Franchise Group LLC. “When I was able to get a job, I started out making pizzas, prepping and making dough and delivering pizzas. I eventually became a manager of the store.”
It’s not hard to guess how LaMarca felt when his family purchased the Master Pizza business in 2001 from its founder and original owner, Ken Petti.
“When the store became available and my dad asked me if I’d be interested in working there, I said, ‘Of course,’” he says. “It was something I always wanted to do.”
The company now has 10 locations across Northeast Ohio and is preparing to open an 11th store in Stow by the end of the year. LaMarca would like to expand into Columbus in the near future, and says Toledo and Dayton are possibilities down the road.
You can do it
All business owners face challenges in the growth of their businesses, LaMarca says. The key to coming through the other side in good shape is the ability to be both patient and resolute.
“You have to remain focused and never stop moving forward,” LaMarca says. “There are a million distractions and reasons to stop. You may decide you want to try something else or you just want to quit. It’s the difference between a highly successful business and those that seem to struggle to find their way. You have to stay focused, no matter what hits you.”
LaMarca puts a lot of faith in the strength of his team at each store to make Master Pizza successful and ride through the challenges.
“One thing I learned from my dad, it’s just a matter of working together side by side,” he says. “You’re not above somebody, you’re leading them. You’re always creating the speed and the path, but you’re right alongside everyone for that ride.”
Engage your community
LaMarca is a big believer in being a business owner who gives back to the community. Master Pizza always takes part in the annual Unity Days celebration in Mayfield Heights.
“When we are in the community, we want them to support our stores,” he says. “I believe it has to go both ways. We have to give it back to them.” ●
On the side
Favorite sport: Baseball.
Vacation spot: Sorrento, Italy. It’s breathtaking.
Currently reading: An Italian language textbook. I bring it with me everywhere I go. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn.
Where you’ll most likely find me on the weekend: At home with my girls trying to think of something fun to do for the day. On Sunday, you’ll find me making a huge breakfast for them.
One thing people might find surprising about me: My favorite pizza is just a cheese pizza.