Mike Cunningham came onboard as a Domino’s franchisee in 1978 with a plan for growth. You might say it was a pretty good plan.

Cunningham now has 100 stores under MAC Pizza Management, the franchise he owns with his wife, Cindy. That milestone was achieved on November 15, 2023, with a location in Iowa Colony, Texas.

Before opening the doors of his first store, Cunningham got inspired to become a Domino’s franchisee by Richard Mueller, founder of the brand’s largest franchise, RPM Pizza. Cunningham worked for Mueller at a Domino’s store near Ohio State University, where Cunningham was a student. Mueller consistently encouraged Cunningham to take on greater responsibility and became an influential mentor in the young man’s professional journey, helping him discover that he wanted to work for himself as a franchisee.

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“I was also attracted to the opportunities in Texas, specifically in College Station near Texas A&M University,” Cunningham said.

As he worked to build his franchise over the years, every decision served as a learning opportunity. Whether venturing into new regions, strategizing on utilizing technology or growing store count, he learned that remaining accountable is key.

“Building a successful business is just a series of decisions, one after another,” he said. “The key is to make more good decisions than bad. When you make a bad decision, learn from it, and don’t make it again. If you are wrong, admit it. Don’t ever give up. Keep plugging away. Do every task to the best of your ability.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of MAC Pizza’s success is the devoted family of employees the franchise has united—many with more than 10 or 20 years of service. Since 1981, 18 MAC Pizza Management employees have moved on to become Domino’s franchise owners.

Cunningham said he has loved watching his employees grow into leaders. “I see many individuals who start as young drivers, pizza makers and customer service representatives that lack direction, and five or 10 years later, they are leaders!”

He believes MAC Pizza’s core values, collectively called PRIDE, have helped instill a passion for success in his dedicated employees:

People: We build our organization from within. Our people are our most important asset.
Respect: We are a family, and everyone is equally as important as the next.
Integrity: We do the right thing in an honest, fair and responsible way.
Drive: We constantly strive to improve and enhance ourselves.
Elevate: We look for opportunities to lift someone up and leave them better than we found them.

Looking back, the driving force behind his commitment to expand his franchise is the fun he has had along the way, Cunningham said. “The job changes every time you add a store. I like how my career has progressed slowly throughout the years; I am constantly learning new things.”

With plans to grow MAC Pizza Management beyond 100 stores, he said he wants to leave a successful business for the next generation. His son, Alan, is the current president of MAC Pizza and hopes to become the franchisee of record soon.

“I would like to see my grandkids work for MAC Pizza,” Cunningham said. “Let’s keep on growing!”