A veteran of the restaurant industry, Mark Bomberger was born and raised in the southern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Attending Loyola University before transferring to Western Michigan University, Bomberger graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Employed with restaurants throughout high school and his college years, Bomberger was no stranger to the food service industry when joining the world’s leading take-n-bake pizza chain: Papa Murphy’s.
As a part time employee with a Burger chain throughout his younger years, Bomberger found this the perfect means to compliment his college income. Staying with the company for a few years after graduating, he soon after found employment with Greyhound Food Management Inc. In the early eighties Bomberger was promoted to Regional Manager for Trailways Food Services. Responsible for transforming the fading bus terminal restaurants into dynamic fast food joints, gift shops and game rooms, Bomberger found success with the company until things took a turn for the worse. With airline wars on the rise, it was suddenly cheaper to fly than take the bus, and so Bomberger moved on.
Spending the next 28-years working for PepsiCo’s Taco Bell, which was later spun off as Yum! Brands, Bomberger was hired as a District Manager, but filled many positions throughout the years including Franchise Consultant, Area Manager, Director of Franchise Operators for the mid west, and finally Regional Vice President for Taco Bell in the northeast. With 650 stores under his command, Bombeger retired in 2009. Taking some time to figure out what his next move would be, this is when Bomberger was introduced to Papa Murphy’s Pizza.
One day while on a post-retirement vacation, Bomberger crossed paths with a former Taco Bell employee who was now the eastern Director of Franchise Sales for Papa Murphy’s. Learning about the brand and franchise opportunities Bomberger became intrigued. “I had never been to a Papa Murphy’s, but I looked into it, visited some cities with Papa Murphy’s stores, and talked to their franchisees about the brand,” Bomberger says. “That’s when my wife, Tammy, and I decided it was the next thing to do. So we partnered up and signed the franchise agreement in late 2009.”
Opening their first location in Frederick, Maryland in 2010, today Bombeger is the Area Representative for 10 counties on the east coast, including Virginia, Maryland, the greater Washington DC area, and Baltimore. Together him and his wife own three Papa Murphy’s locations; the other two both in Hagerstown, Maryland. It’s a family affair, as the Bomberger’s were able to have their son-in-law, Travis Shull, join the business. “Travis quickly became an integral part of our success!” Bomberger says
Proud to be serving guests customized pizzas from scratch-made dough, freshly grated 100 percent whole-milk mozzarella cheese, hand-chopped vegetable toppings, and a variety of meat selections, Bomberger is a fan of the take-n-bake concept. Allowing customers to watch their pizzas be created on order then taken home to bake in their own ovens, from a franchising perspective this concept also creates a low cost of entry.
Requiring a smaller store space since there is no in-store dining, take-n-bake also cuts the hefty costs of equipment such as ovens and freezers. While the standard hours and no-delivery service were also selling points for Bomberger, more than anything else he was excited to introduce the take-n-bake pizza to the east coast.
Undergoing the comprehensive four-week franchise training process that covers everything from in-store hands on training at an existing location, to training in a classroom setting where franchisees learn about financial management, the business system and processes, Bomberger was especially impressed with the thoroughness of the brand’s training and operations.
Attending stage one of training, a three-day activity which involves working in an existing Papa Murphy’s location with a training manager, here Bomberger was exposed to the daily routines and tasks of running a franchise. One of the most unique traits of the company is that at the end of the three days process both parties have the opportunity to change their mind at no cost. “If for some reason I thought I wanted to own a franchise and after the in-store training I changed my mind, I could have gotten out of commitment. On the other hand if Papa Murphy’s decided I wasn’t a good fit for the company they could have refunded my money and the contract would be void,” Bomberger explains.
Pleased with the initial training, Bomberger then spent four weeks of in-store comprehensive training which covers how to prepare the menu, do the prep work, and organize the schedule. Travelling next to Vancouver for a weeklong course on ownership, here Bomberger was educated on various topics such as how to be a franchise owner, business legalities, accounting, and how to complying with company regulations. The final stage of training focused on point of sales training with NCR in a classroom setting. Once completing the training Bomberger set out to find his Papa Murphy site. “The company provides excellent assistance with site selection, but since I was a veteran of that sort of activity I was able to successfully find my own sites, which were then approved of by the company,” he explains.
Impressed with the support of the company, Bomberger has ongoing support through a dedicated team available to him. “They make periodic visits to the stores and do full operations audits,” he says. “They make it so as a franchisee I have plenty of opportunity to interact with the corporate staff, get support and feedback.” As Area Representative, Bomberger is responsible for recruiting and selecting new franchise owners, providing direct support for site selection, construction, new store openings, and ongoing operations. Bomberger’s Frederick location serves as the certified training store for franchisees on the east coast.
The most gratifying experience for Bomberger has been the customer feedback which recognizes the great teams he has built in each of his stores. “I’ve been in the business a long time, I started by working in restaurants then running them. I moved up the ranks in organizations, leading groups of organizations. My biggest worry was could I get back into a store situation, working with young people with the generational changes. I wondered if I could be as good in store as I was when I was 25,” he says. “The good news is that even though things have changed and the world is different now than it was in 1977, the basic things you need to do to build great teams and provide great service are the same.”
For Bomberger the best thing about being a Papa Murphy’s franchisee is what the brand stands for. “Papa Murphy’s leads the nation in their quality and loyalty. People love our food, once they get a chance to taste it they become loyal fans. As a Papa Murphy’s franchisee I have the ability to own a business where people love you and your food,” he explains.
Retiring from a job that involved traveling 46 weeks a year to a job where all three of his franchise locations are a mere 25-minute drive from his home, Bomberger says that his lifestyle has vastly improved. “Comparing my old job that required me to be away from home so much to now, with my wife as my business partner, this is better, much, much better.” Today the couple lives on a beautiful 20-acre farm in Maryland, 20 minutes outside Gettysburg.
To those interested in joining the Papa Murphy’s brand Bomberger says to think about what it is you want to do with your life. “If you want to be involved with a brand that you’re going to be instantly proud of and make fans, Papa Murphy’s is it, and if you don’t know what it is you want to do yet, eat one of our pizzas!”