Looking to make some extra cash while at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Andy Johnson joined the first-ever Toppers Pizza team as a delivery driver. Andy, having worked in the pizza business since age 13, fast fell into his groove, earning the record of most pizzas delivered in a shift.
Scott Gittrich, president and founder of Toppers Pizza, was also enrolled at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and shared a few classes with Andy where the two quickly became well acquainted. Around the same time, Andy met his now-wife, Caro Johnson and the two did long distance for four years during college before getting married in 1996. When Andy graduated that year, Scott was ready to start franchising the concept and asked him to join the Toppers team.
“Newly married and out of college, Andy and I saw a unique opportunity with Scott and Toppers and decided to take the plunge, opening our first location in Eau Claire the next year,” said Toppers Pizza franchisee Caro Johnson. “We were there at the restaurant every hour of the day that first year, and it was a truly a team, all hands-on deck mentality. Our delivery drivers would drop everything and take on multiple roles because they truly loved the Toppers brand and believed in the product we’re serving up – and they still do.”
For the Johnsons, their team members are number one. Each year, they organize a team activity like skiing or a short trip to spend time together as a crew and show that the success they’ve found wouldn’t be possible without the team they have in place. Caro says that this mentality extends throughout the Toppers system and starts with Scott.
“When I first met Scott, I saw an individual who understood that there was personality, a connection with the customers missing in the pizza industry. What’s so exciting about Toppers is that we understand that pizza is an American staple, and we’ve created a unique way of connecting with our customers and team members because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I love the fact that Toppers is a refreshing force in the pizza industry. It’s challenging customers to see that pizza can be innovative, unique and fun,” says Caro.
Over the years, the Johnsons, embracing this mentality, have grown outward with the brand opening three other locations throughout Wisconsin. They’re currently working to remodel one of their Eau Claire locations to expand the store in order to keep up with increasing orders. Looking ahead, the couple continues to build a strong foundation of team members, increase sales at their stores and represent the Toppers brand through community partnerships and quality service.
"Andy and Caro Johnson embody the DNA of the Toppers brand. They took a big chance, opening their first Toppers location back when they were fresh out of college. Today they are the perfect example of high-performing, values-centric Toppers franchisees who own their market. If I had to pick the absolute worst place in the world for anyone to choose to open a pizza place, I would say next to Andy and Caro Johnson,” said Gittrich.