Company plans to stay put in Whitewater

By Dave Fidlin


The restaurant chain known for such crowd-pleasers as Topperstix and macaroni and cheese pizza is in the midst of an aggressive growth spurt.

Scott Gittrich, CEO of Toppers Pizza, discussed his company’s progress and future plans with a reporter last week. He revealed a vision to have 500 stores operating throughout the country by 2020 and emphatically stated the company plans to remain anchored in Whitewater well into the foreseeable future.

At the moment, Toppers has about 50 stores. The company is saturating almost every sizeable Wisconsin market and also is making in-roads in cities within nine other states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

It’s notable momentum for a company that has origins going back to 1993. Gittrich, a former delivery driver with Domino’s Pizza, has watched other competing chains come and go from Whitewater.

“It’s really been amazing,” Gittrich said of the support Toppers has received within Whitewater in the past two decades. “I’m really proud to be headquartered in this community. This is an important part of our heritage.”

Toppers’ growth outside Whitewater is a more recent phenomenon. The company made headlines a year ago when it entered the Chicago market – a bold move, according to some market analysts, because of the already strong presence of corporate and local pizzerias in a city known for deep dish pizza.

As Toppers has evolved in the past two decades, Gittrich said he is confident Toppers can carve out its own slice of the pizza pie because of a unique blend of clever marketing and high-quality, signature food choices.

“We’ve become a distinct place with a brand that’s youthful and fresh,” Gittrich said. “We’ve put life into what had been a tired segment. The bottom line is our business is working.”

This year, Gittrich said Toppers is on track to open another 12-14 stores within states in the company’s footprint. Some of the stores are corporately run and others are overseen by franchisees. Gittrich said the company has a relationship with about 25 franchisees at the moment.

“We’ve been able to work with some excellent professionals,” Gittrich said, adding that some of the franchisees graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s business program.

As Toppers has grown, marketing efforts have stepped up.

Scott Iversen, the company’s director of marketing, said Toppers is in the midst of its first TV advertising campaign. The company also is looking to build awareness through radio and outdoor advertising.

“We like to emphasize how we offer an experience you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Iversen said. “Some of our items, such as the Topperstix, are a huge part of our brand identity. You’re not going to find it anywhere else.”

Iversen said the company is in the midst of a research project that could springboard into further menu offerings.

As Toppers continues its aggressive evolution, Gittrich said the company will not forget its origins.

He envisions the possibility of satellite offices in different regions. But in all likelihood, he said the main corporate office will be staying put in Whitewater.





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