Ken Howe is taking his P&G experience to Pizza Hut -- and the differences between selling toilet paper and selling pizza are not as great as you might expect.
it be a question that begs to be asked of Ken Howe
, a former assistant brand manager in the paper division for consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble and former senior director of Pizza Hut Inc.Howe
remains straight-faced when he
replies, Basically not. With a just-delivered pizza, you know that when that box gets opened, that for just a little bit, maybe, life's a little bit better, he
says.it be almost the same with bathroom tissue..
OK, so he
be joking.Ripping into a four-roll pack of Charmin can not compare to the mouth-watering anticipation of lifting the lid on a fresh, hot pizza smothered in melted cheese and loaded with pepperoni.But Howe
is serious when he
says, The bedrock for me is that you have got to provide something that someone is willing to reach in their pocket, take out their hard-earned money, and pay you for..
That basic business principle -- along with a good sense of humor -- is just one lesson learned from corporate America that the 41-year-old executive brings to Hallrich Inc., the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants in Ohio.In January, he
was named president and chief operating officer of the Stow-based company, which owns and operates 80 restaurants in 14 Northeast Ohio counties.
Szambecki says that by the time Hallrich hired Howe
as vice president of operations in 1997, he had long since been lured away from P&G in Cincinnati by the Wichita, Kan.-based Pizza Hut chain, then owned by Pepsico.
says Pizza Hut was anxious to recruit P&G employees like him because their employer provided a classic education in basic marketing techniques.
You understood television advertising, the terminology of that business -- reach and frequency and impressions, he
explains.You understood how print (advertising) worked.You knew the various forms of print, everything from slick ladies' magazines to newspaper advertising..
That knowledge will undoubtedly continue to serve Howe
well as he
shoulders Hallrich's marketing, personnel and training functions so Szambecki can concentrate on finances and restaurant development.But he
learned the importance of recognizing and rewarding others during his
time with Pizza Hut.
There are a lot of companies who do not believe that people are good, he
says.I happen to firmly believe that most people try to do the right thing.i would rather spend most of my time praising them for what they do right than berating them for what they do wrong..Howe
also credits Pizza Hut with honing his
competitive edge, a trait that has been further sharpened since he
moved to Northeastern Ohio, which he
calls one of the most active pizza markets in the country.Competition is provided by both national chains such as Domino's and Little Caesar's, as well as regional players such as Donatos, Marco's and the East of Chicago Pizza Co.
Anybody whose last name ends with an o' thinks they have got the license to open up a pizza shop, he
says.In America, they have got just as much of a chance to be successful as we do.you have just always got to be making a better product, running a better restaurant.
it be amazing in the pizza business how quickly a bad pizza can lose you a customer.You really do not get that in the toilet paper or tissue world..
As for the leadership skills Szambecki mentions, Howe
says those were developed during his
time in the Army -- four years at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where he
bachelor's degree in engineering, followed by five years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Dexheim, West Germany.
The Army is a people leadership business, he
says.Most companies and most businesses boil down to that. ... that be something I liked about the Army.I loved being a platoon leader.I loved being a company commander.