Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pizza's Man Wife

This is my story of pizza.

Not many of you blogger friends know how intertwined my life is to pizza. Not only is it my reason for my husband and I meeting and marrying, it is the bread and butter of all we have and own. It is our house and our children's college. Our retirement someday..hopefully. It oddly enough is also a testimony to God's plan and the faith we need to hold and have in Him.

I probably need to back waay up here and start earlier for you to understand all I am rambling about, and if you have the time, it makes for a pretty good story. I for one never dreamed as a little girl with pizza pies in my eyes...but life is funny the way it twists and turns.

Back in 1991, Mike was a lost soul, with a capitol L. He had a failed marriage, a lost corporate position, and a bunch of demons chasing him. One day he packed up everything he owned in his car, and what he couldn't fit, he didn't take, and he moved to Key West. He was 27 years old and found a little place to rent and worked as delivery driver. He spent his days soaking up the sun, watching the locals, and playing guitar.

I was a lost teenager in a home full of sadness. My dad was fighting a terrible ogre of a disease and he was on the losing end. My mom was completely spent trying to take care of him. I was hanging with the wrong crowd and trying to find my Independence.

In 1992, Mike got a call from a friend of his asking him to move back to Ohio to come and open a new store for a pizza chain he had just bought in the small town of Milford. He could be the the manager and it would be and exciting prospect to build up this new pizza store. Again, Mike packed everything in his little Chevy Colt and moved here.

While trying to get ready for the Grand Opening, Mike was out throughout the town door hanging and ran into a woman in her yard. She expressed an interest in her teenage daughter needing a job (me), and Mike was trying to staff the store. So he gave her his number.

When I first met Mike...I won't say I knew, because thats Cliché, and bold, and for Pete's sake I was 17! But there was a major attraction there. I just wanted to be with him.

And I have ever since.

You know how it goes. We dated. We got married. We bought a trailer. Tatum was born. Mike worked 2nd shift and life was good. Through these years that store was a very very big success. The owner expanded and bought another store, and another store, and another store. But still Mike's store was the top and ran the best, and made the most money. Soon the man asked Mike to be his supervisor! We got a raise! A company car! Bought a house. Had another baby. Mike made more and more money, and started to build this man more and more stores. He made this man very successful.

The man now has 12 stores and a million dollar house.

After several years though, Mike wanted to not just be the worker, and to benefit from all the hard work. But to make money, you have to have money it seems. It was a gentleman's club, and hard to get into, and we couldn't seem to wedge our way into ownership.

So Mike came up with a plan. He convinced his boss to give his 5% "ownership" of the business. (It never was on paper), but with these bonus checks, we squirrelled them away to a savings account and never ever touched them. For several years we did this until we had enough to put a down payment down on the only store his boss was willing to sell him. (This is where Karma comes in and I love it!) It was a store that was further away from the others, and not profitable. The owner really was not wanting to keep it. It was more like a relief for him to get it off his hands. But he sure didn't sell it to us for cheap. That was okay. Mike rolled up his sleeves, and went out there and has turned that store into a profitable well running store. We made enough to completely pay it off in 2 years! His boss had sellers remorse once he saw it turn profitable. (Amazing what a little hard work can do!)

So we had our 1 little store. We were happy. We were not looking or asking for any more! This is where I think God had bigger plans than we had for ourselves! It had been just 3 months since we bought that store. It was 2005. Mike went to a meeting and a gentleman walked up to him and shook his hand and said "Congratulations on buying the W**** store, I own the L**** one. Let me know if you ever interested in buying it". When Mike came home and told me this, I said "NO WAY!" "We have no money...what are you thinking!!" But he convinced me to take a drive out just to see the town.

This was another case of a store being ran poorly. Ownership changing hands too often and not always being paid attention to. Our jaws dropped when we saw the town. Cornfield after cornfield of subdivision being built (a pizza stores dream!). Good schools, good population, cute antiquey town. Where do we sign? My mother's husband helped us out with the loan and we packed up our 3 kids by that time and moved! Again, what Mike touched turned to gold. His store is a well ran, profitable store. It is the reason, we paid off the 1st one so easily, and hopefully will have our 2nd paid off too. In 2oo8 he a won the National award for this pizza chains Franchisee of the year. He has been nominated again this year.

You would think everything is all tyed up neat and pretty right? Well no. Mike has worked alot of weeks 80 hours or more. He has missed alot of holidays and events, and now just when I think things are getting good.....oh I need to trust even more in the LORD!

A new opportunity!. Another store that all the big dogs have bypassed. It is losing money every week. The guy is selling it for a song! So cheap we have it in savings right now! But it means he would be gone. With a capital G..gone! Working an hour a way to getting it up and running again. I saw the town. It is perfectly doable. But it is so hard raising these 4 kids myself, and trying to handle everything.

This could mean 4 kids could go to college. This would mean my poor 45 year old husband could retire some day.

It also could means we could lose everything.

Just when you get too comfortable..jeez!

So, now I am out of the closet...I am a pizza man's wife! Say a little prayer for us if you can. I keep telling Mike, that God is the pilot and we are just the co-pilot anyways.. just along for the ride:)

***** you can see this was first written and briefly published in January. When I first put it up, my husband felt uncomfortable during the buying process for me to have it up.
So for an update, I will tell you in March the 3rd Store officially became ours. There have been some bumps and strains, but all and all it was a smart move I think. The store has turned around considerably and running so much better. Mike does work an awful lot (last night he missed Halloween:( ) But he trys really hard to do it with a smile on his face, and I know that he is doing it for us.