Remain true to your core values, even with change

The core values that Donatos stands for today were the same guiding principles that my father, Jim Grote, envisioned for this company more than 50 years ago. At age 13, washing pans for a local pizza shop on the south end of Columbus, he learned lessons that would transform the way people do business. His youthful curiosity soaked up qualities from those he wanted to emulate — and those he did not.

As an impressionable young man, he watched one pizza shop owner always cut corners and try to reduce costs by cheapening his product. Another owner always gave more than expected in both service and product. Not only were their two approaches vastly different, they resulted in quite opposite results. The lessons learned were endless.

Values for yesterday and today

As a result, in 1963 my dad founded Donatos on the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Our mission at Donatos is to promote goodwill through product and service, principles and people; the values and principles dad founded the company on still define our company today. Very simply, these are the things that make our company unlike any other.

At Donatos, when we strategize about adapting our company for the future, there is one thing we are not transforming: the core of who we are. In fact, we believe that being a philanthropic and socially conscious company is what customers and associates find most important. We understand that customers want to know who they are doing business with, and what we do by serving others is much bigger than the pizza we serve.

Same dance, different steps

Obviously, the marketplace we all do business in is changing more rapidly than ever before. Processes and technologies to streamline the ways that we have always done business are developed at a pace never before imagined.

With this type of rapid transformation being the norm instead of the exception, it can become easier to drift away from the founding principles and practices that put your company on the map in the first place. Be diligent in resisting changes to the cores values of your company.

Just as new technological advances have made changes to existing policies and procedures possible, embracing those new technologies can not only enhance your core values, but also make your founding values as relevant as ever.

For example, at our company, being an asset to every neighborhood by supporting local charities and nonprofits has always been one of our core values. However, the manner in which we support many of those groups today has changed. Online fundraising, sharing social messages and leveraging email assets are proving to be just as valuable to today’s charities as collection canisters were in days gone by.

The old colloquialism to “dance with the one that brung ya,” which means to support those who have supported you and helped get you where you are, continues to ring true today. Maybe just how you dance is a little different than it used to be.


Jane Grote Abell is the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane is heavily focused on the chain’s mission of promoting goodwill through product, service, principles and people. She was named CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO, featured in CBS’s hit series “Undercover Boss” and released her first book in December 2015 “The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way.”