Living in and of itself carries with it many distractions. It is easy to forget what has to be done, or to make a slip. When you are CEO of a publicly traded company, however, making a slip can be quite costly. John Schnatter , CEO of Papa John’s, made a costly slip on a conference call that subsequently was disseminated to the media and now things have taken a downturn for him quite quickly. His name is being removed from a stadium in Louisville and his image has been tarnished to the point where his name and face is being removed from Papa John’s marketing materials.
According to Bloomberg.org, Papa John’s second-in-line, Steve Ritchie, released a letter of apology that kept drawing the reader back to the fact that the company is not at all on-board with that line of commenting and that their only concern is providing better service and pizza to their many customers. Most importantly, Mr. Ritchie’s letter included specific actions that are being taken to ameliorate the situation, as best they can, and all the actions being taken were in a bulleted list in their apology letter.
Steve Ritchie Papa John’s was vulnerable in the apology and came across as human, deeply concerned with the feelings of people that had been hurt and how the line of commenting was completely unwarranted. Mr. Ritchie started with Papa John’s as a customer service rep in 2006, and just 22 years later, at the age of 43, he has now been promoted to Chief Executive Officer. There might not be a better story regarding rocket-like progression of a professional trajectory than that of Mr. Ritchie.
As it turns out, this home-grown path-of-advancement is atypical of the corporate culture at this 3rd-largest deliverer of pizza in this country. Nearly 100% of all of their managers started out as delivery staff, in customer service and other hourly positions. Steve Ritchie has achieved an enormous amount of success for a still rather young man. At his age, most people are looking at another 25 years in the workforce before retirement. It will be interesting to see how the rest of his career takes shape in the coming years.