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The Great Franchisee: Ryan Tepsa, Toppers Pizza, Superior, WI

A former delivery driver with the pizza franchise, Tepsa has fulfilled his dreams of business ownership and opened his second Toppers location in Wisconsin.

16 years ago, Duluth, Minnesota-native Ryan Tepsa got a job delivering pizza for a local franchise called Toppers Pizza. In the years since, Toppers has expanded to more than 83 locations across 16 states, and Tepsa’s career has grown in step with the brand.

In 2011, Tepsa took a job on Toppers’ corporate team as a field training specialist. Soon after, he transitioned into a role as an operations technology specialist. 

A few years back, Tepsa jumped back to the store level, this time as the owner of a franchise location in Duluth’s East Hillside neighborhood. And in 2020, Tepsa decided to expand, opening his second Toppers location in the heart of downtown Superior, Wisconsin.

We spoke to Tepsa to learn more about his journey as an employee, corporate team member and now owner with the fast-growing pizza franchise.

1851 Franchise: How long have you worked with Toppers? 

Tepsa: I’ve been with Toppers for 16 years. I started delivering pizza in Wisconsin, worked my way up to manager and eventually field training specialist to the corporate office in Whitewater. In the last few years I’ve become a franchisee in Duluth, which has been a great opportunity. 

I first started with the brand as a driver for two years after college. Now, I’m a franchise owner of two stores. I grew up in Duluth until just before high school when I left to attend a law enforcement academy in Minnesota. Growing up in Duluth, I did a lot of volunteer work in the community with the Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, the YMCA and I was on the swim team. It’s felt great to re-enter the community, plus, my family is here.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Tepsa: I give a lot of credit to my best friend and fellow franchisee Justin Marten for the encouragement to make this bold move. Justin hired me as an area supervisor in the Racine/Kenosha area for his stores. We are still in contact every day despite the distance. 

1851: Why did you choose franchising over starting your own business?

Tespa: I traveled the country opening more than 30 stores when I was a corporate trainer. I helped franchisees get started, so it was only natural for me to start franchising when the right opportunity presented itself. 

1851: Why did you choose Toppers Pizza? What excited you most about the potential?

Tepsa: I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business and giving back to the Duluth/Superior area where I grew up. I grew up contributing to the community and I want to commit to doing that still.

It’s been a growing brand and for many years. I’ve done so many different things with this company and it’s always exciting.

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like? 

Tepsa: Our new location will open on October 19. With COVID-19, we will do a soft opening and offer 51%off all pizzas at both locations for a couple weeks. We will have masks, a sanitation checklist that we’ll run through every four hours. Plus, this location is bigger than our Duluth store, which will make social distancing easier. We will also have stickers to remind customers to stay six feet apart and we’ll offer curbside delivery.

1851: What value do you see your business providing to the community?

Tepsa: We built a patio at the back of the store, which will be open to the community. We’re also planning to hire 30 team members in the next two or three weeks, making the effort to offer new jobs to people in the area.

Right now, we are making plans to partner with the Salvation Army. Our team will provide volunteers to their programs. Toppers will also partner with local schools and have donation nights. We will donate sales to local schools, colleges and sports teams who need fundraising due to COVID.

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Tepsa: I have great family support! I have three daughters: Ella, Emma and Addi, and a son Ezra who is obsessed with making pizzas with his dad. All the kiddos love pitching in to help open a store.

In 2019, prior to leaving a position with Toppers HQ, I received the prestigious Rock Award from our company's president Scott Gittrich.

About Toppers Pizza

Capitalizing on the booming better-pizza category and fueled by the passion of Founder & President Scott Gittrich and a team of experienced industry veterans, Toppers Pizza has formulated the perfect recipe to appeal to both pizza enthusiasts and savvy investors. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Toppers is committed to quality and consistency throughout the system, and plans to maintain corporate ownership of 25 percent of all locations while the brand expands to continuously improve on best practices and product development. Toppers fanatics love the brand’s fresh, handmade and customizable pizza baked in about 360 seconds and delivered extremely fast, with more than a million combinations of fresh, high-quality toppings, and the brand’s signature line of flavored Topperstix and baked Buffalo wings. In 2018, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Toppers as one of the Top 200 Food-Based Franchises. For more information on Toppers Pizza, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.