Pizza and sports is a match made in heaven. Just ask Brad Vinton and Dan Ogiba. Friends since their collegiate days at Hamline University, the two were watching a basketball game on TV when an ad for Toppers Pizza broke up the monotony of halftime commercials. Like a true hero, Ogiba decided to order a few pies for his friends. At that moment, both Vinton and Ogiba became steadfast Toppers fanatics—and the rest, as they say, is history.
Less than a year later, Ogiba ran into Scott Iversen, Toppers’ vice president of marketing, at the IFA convention in San Antonio, while he was there representing Haagen-Dazs as the director of franchise development for the ice cream franchise. He was eager to speak with Iversen because of his love for the brand, and he quickly found that Toppers was looking to grow throughout Minnesota.
Since then, Ogiba corralled Vinton to join him as his business partner. Today, Vinton and Ogiba are the proud owners of five Toppers stores throughout St. Paul, Minnesota since their opening in 2011. Now, they have two additional stores in the works.
“Dan and I had always wanted to open our own business. We kept our ears to the ground after we graduated and waited for the right opportunity. That came when we ran across Toppers. The brand, the leadership, the fans—everything about it stood out to me,” Vinton said. “And the pizza—best thing I’ve ever tasted. I was sold.”
Before joining Toppers, Vinton spent nearly 13 years in pharmaceutical sales. And while he liked his job, his ultimate dream was to build something of his own. Right before opening his first location in August 2011, Vinton remembers walking around Concordia University handing out menus and getting the word out about the grand opening. A three-year-old boy named Sawyer came up to him and started asking questions about Toppers. That night, he went home and told his mom he met a guy with a crown on the back of his shirt. A few days later, Sawyer was walking with his mom past the store, and he immediately recognized Vinton putting up lights. The two talked, and Sawyer ended up coming to the grand opening. Now, he and his family are some of their most loyal fanatics.
Vinton says that it’s moments like these that remind him why he became a Toppers franchisee in the first place. At Toppers, it’s what’s outside the box that counts, too. At no other pizza place has he seen team members care so much about the brand’s mission and truly believe in what it stands for.
“That’s when I realized that what we do is about the customer experience and being part of the community. People genuinely love what we do and who we are. That’s why it’s up to us to keep producing these incredible moments with the help of our friendly team and delicious food. When pizza’s involved, awesome thing happen,” Vinton said.
Vinton and Ogiba now have three additional stores in development within the St. Paul area. The two business partners are looking forward to creating even more Toppers fanatics in the years to come, but Vinton thinks it’ll be hard to beat the biggest pizza fan he knows—his four-year-old son.
“Every time we take him to another pizza place, he yells out in front of the waitress, ‘Topperstix, Dad!’ He already has great taste,” Vinton said. To learn more about Toppers Pizza, click here.