Who would start a new pizza chain in 2008 smack in the middle of the great recession? Answer: A bold and socially conscious husband-and-wife team from Seattle, who decided to innovate the traditional pizza experience for a new millennium.
In his article “THE ANALYSIS OF ORGANIZATION BY PRODUCT,” L. Ron Hubbard wrote:
“The different products involved in production are:
“1. Establishing something that produces. (Product 1)
“These are the four basic PRODUCTS involved in production.”
“Three major factors govern every product. These are:
“Quantity would be an acceptable, expected or useful volume.
“Quality would be the degree of perfection of a product.
“Viability would be the longevity, usefulness and desirability of the product.
“As each product in the four listed above has three factors in each product, there are then twelve major points (4 x 3) regulating production.”
Starting with Coffee
MOD Pizza was founded in 2008 in Seattle by husband-and-wife team Scott and Ally Svenson. MOD stands for “made-on-demand,” and the family-owned business has been on an aggressive yet conscientious mission of expansion ever since.
They’ve been climbing the Inc. 5000 list and for 2017 reached #327, with more than 1,300 percent growth over three years, their revenue surpassing $130 million for 2016, and 4,000 employees in 330 locations across the United States and the UK.1
The rise of this innovative “fast-casual” restaurant is an excellent example of the QUANTITY-QUALITY-VIABILITY product equation as described by Mr. Hubbard.
In the early nineties, back when Scott was an investment banker, he decided to start a new business—a coffee shop! His boss assumed that he’d lost his mind.
“He managed an intervention from the board because he thought that I’d been working too hard and was having a breakdown,” Scott recalls. “People thought we were crazy, and because of that pressure, we couldn’t fail.”
His wife, Ally, then working in the publishing industry, joined him and the duo opened the Seattle Coffee Company, bringing artisan coffee to the tea-drinking clientele of London and South Africa. By 1998, the team sold the company to Starbucks for about $90 million, and Scott ended up serving as president of Starbucks Europe as part of the merger.
The same year, they collaborated with Italian chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio to create Carluccio’s, an Italian deli and restaurant, which now has over 100 locations across the UK and Middle East.2
A Pizza Epiphany
The couple moved back to Seattle to raise their four boys. Combining their restaurant experience with efforts to find wholesome food for their sons, they eventually devised an innovative plan. Pizza, a $40 billion industry, had experienced a shocking lack of innovation, and the Svenson’s aimed to change that.
When made the traditional way with fresh ingredients, Pizza is Italian food: QUALITY. Americans want their food fast: QUANTITY. The Svensons had experience with both. The plan was to create a fast-casual pizza experience based on speed, high quality and atmosphere.
Thus, MOD Pizza was born in November 2008, about a year into the recession. The team was emphatically told there couldn’t be a worse time to start a pizza restaurant.
Synonymous with QUANTITY is SPEED—how many of a product can you get out in how much time? And with food, QUALITY is everything. Pizza made with high-quality ingredients, well prepared—with an emphasis on artisan and traditional—in a pleasant environment and with friendly staff: that’s MOD Pizza.
Walk into MOD and the atmosphere is palpable.
The menu is simple.
They serve MOD size (11") and MINI size (6"). The customer chooses from 30 fresh toppings, with vegan options, in any combination and any quantity—and the price is exactly the same. All toppings are there, so the customer sees their pizza being created in real time. Can’t decide? Pick from a menu that includes pizzas named for their four sons (Tristan, Dillon, Caspian, Jasper) or choose a made-to-order salad, garlic strips, cinnamon strips, or a milkshake with flavors like Oregon’s blackberry, the “marionberry.”3
Each pizza at MOD is baked for about three minutes in their 800-degree Fahrenheit specialty oven. In 2015, the company partnered with King Arthur Flour Company, the nation’s oldest flour producer, using 100 percent American grown, non-GMO flour for all their pizza dough.
“At MOD, we believe in transparency, and when it comes to our food we are committed to sourcing the very best ingredients while keeping the MOD experience affordable for families,” says Scott. “It is important that our guests feel good about what they are eating, and we are always motivated by the fact that our kids eat here too!”4
The company garnered a $40 million cash infusion in 2015, sparking exponential expansion while remaining committed to their purpose and company culture.5
“Of course, building a successful business is gratifying, but the things that gave us the most happiness were the times we were able to make a positive impact on someone’s life,” says Scott.
A Full-Circle Vision
MOD’s forward vision includes their employees just as much as their customers, with free or discounted meals, leadership and life-skills coaching, competitive wages and benefits.
MOD has set a precedent in its field by offering second chances to applicants with criminal records, learning difficulties or past drug or alcohol problems. Their philosophy is that if you take care of your staff, challenge them and build a high-morale team, they’ll take care of the customers—and it’s been working. The company added 110 stores between 2016 and 2017, and repeatedly makes the lists of fastest-growing companies and best places to work.
“Today, companies have to think about more than just their shareholders; they have to think about the health of their community. If we all wait for the government to solve the problems we have today, we’ll be waiting for a long time,” says Scott.6
Each MOD store is custom designed for its region while maintaining the MOD aesthetic. They have their own custom radio station (also available online) to convey their unique rebellious ethos, with songs by The Clash, The Who, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many others.
The company exemplifies the “think global, act local” philosophy by helping their stores contribute to their communities. They call it “spreading MODness” and work with family and youth groups, host fundraisers for local charities, pitch in at schools and local events, and donate to nonprofits chosen by MOD employees.
The Road to Viability
At the end of the aforementioned article, L. Ron Hubbard wrote:
“Where any of these products or factors are missing, the viability of the whole is shaken. By using them the whole becomes viable.”
MOD has demonstrated skilled integration of PRODUCTS 1–4 described above, establishing and operating an innovative business model, repairing and correcting the product and their most valuable asset, their employees—all to the benefit of their customers.
But their growth has been made exponential by continuously working QUANTITY and QUALITY into the equation.
The coveted realm of VIABILITY.
1. Inc. 5000. “MOD Pizza.” Inc.com. Mansueto Ventures, n.d. www.inc.com/profile/mod-pizza. Web. 16 June 2018.
2. Canal, Emily. “This Married Couple Sold Their Company to Starbucks for $90 Million, and Then Built a $131 Million Pizza Empire.” Inc.com. Mansueto Ventures, 23 Jan. 2018. www.inc.com/emily-canal/how-mod-pizza-founders-built-a-131-million-pizza-empire.html. Web. 16 June 2018.
3. Simple Menu. Endless Options. MODpizza.com. MOD Super Fast Pizza, n.d. https://modpizza.com/menu/. Web. 16 June 2018.
4. Press Releases. MODpizza.com. MOD Super Fast Pizza, n.d. https://modpizza.com/press/mod-pizza-builds-commitment-high-quality-ingredients-partnership-king-arthur-flour-company/. Web. 16 June 2018.
5. Press Releases. MODpizza.com. MOD Super Fast Pizza, n.d. https://modpizza.com/press/mod-pizza-raises-significant-round-funding/. Web. 16 June 2018.
6. Canal, Emily. “This Married Couple Sold Their Company to Starbucks for $90 Million, and Then Built a $131 Million Pizza Empire.” Inc.com. Mansueto Ventures, 23 Jan. 2018. www.inc.com/emily-canal/how-mod-pizza-founders-built-a-131-million-pizza-empire.html. Web. 16 June 2018.
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