After 40 fantastic years with Pizza Hut, RGM Mildred “Cookie” Willis is retiring. Cookie...
NPC International – the largest Pizza Hut and Wendy’s franchisee in the United States!
NPC opened its first Pizza Hut restaurant in 1962. Today, we’re proud to be one of the largest restaurant operators in the United States with more than 1,225 Pizza Hut units in 27 states and more than 385 Wendy’s units in 7 states and Washington, D.C.
When two brothers from Wichita, Kansas, opened a pizza parlor in 1958, the concept that drove NPC International's growth was born. Frank and Dan Carney borrowed $600 from their mother to open their first restaurant – a small, brick pizza parlor they named Pizza Hut. A year later, the first Pizza Hut franchisee opened a restaurant in Topeka, Kansas, marking the start of a franchise system that would help make Pizza Hut America’s Favorite Pizza!
Not long after this period of intense growth began, O. Gene Bicknell joined the Pizza Hut franchise network, opening his first Pizza Hut in Pittsburg, Kansas. Bicknell's restaurant, for which he paid $75 per month in rent, represented the first unit of what would become the largest Pizza Hut franchise in the system, NPC International, Inc. Oklahoma born and Kansas raised, Gene graduated from Pittsburg State University. After serving in the army during the early 1950s, Gene worked for the Goodyear Tire Company in Topeka and sold life insurance with New York Life before “discovering the joy from burning the top of your mouth after eating a hot slice of Pizza Hut pizza.”
In order to fuel growth within the growing Pizza Hut system, the company went public in 1984, renaming it to the National Pizza Company, the predecessor to NPC International. By this time, Gene Bicknell had 94 Pizza Huts in nine states that made more than $35 million in annual sales. By the end of the decade, this number grew to 320 Pizza Huts making more than $113 million in annual sales.
During the late 80s and early 90s, NPC achieved its growth objectives by focusing outside of the Pizza Hut system. In 1989, NPC acquired Skipper’s, a 214-unit chain of quick-service fish-and-chips based in Bellevue, Washington. The Company operated this chain for more than five years and eventually divested the seafood chain in March 1996. This divesture enabled it to focus more resources on the development of the franchisor chain acquired in 1993, Tony Roma's. Based in Dallas, Tony Roma's was a privately-owned rib and barbecue chain with 27 company-owned restaurants and 114 franchises. NPC continued to expand the Tony Roma’s franchise to more than 190 restaurants and increased its annual revenue volume to more than $350 million until the late 1990s when it again altered its strategic course. In June 1998, NPC International teamed with a private equity firm to execute a recapitalization of Tony Roma's, which left NPC with only a minority stake in the restaurant chain, and allowed the company to focus its efforts again on aggressive growth within the Pizza Hut system.
After joining NPC International in 1991 as part of the finance group, Jim Schwartz became the company’s President and CEO in 1995 and began focusing on creating a culture where the people operating the restaurants felt like they owned them. He also began two decades of tremendous growth during which the number of units operated increased from 350 to more than 1,500. Jim also led the previously publicly traded NPC to a private buyback in 2001, and through two separate transactions in 2006 and 2011 selling the company to private equity firms. In 2018, Jim again led the sale of the company to a private ownership group.
In order to continue positioning NPC International for growth, the company's executive headquarters relocated from Pittsburg, Kansas, to the Kansas City metro area.
NPC International began acquiring Pizza Hut units in earnest during the late 1990s. In total, the Company acquired more than 588 Pizza Hut units in ten transactions. At the end of this term, the stockholders approved a management buyout taking the Company private once again.
In 2004, Jim Schwartz was named to the Pizza Hut Franchisee Hall of Fame making him the youngest honoree in Hall of Fame history.
On May 3, 2006, the Company was sold to Merrill-Lynch Global Private Equity in a leveraged buyout at a time when NPC’s growth strategy resulted in 790 Pizza Hut units in operation in 26 states, making it the largest Pizza Hut franchisee and the largest franchisee of any restaurant concept in the United States.
NPC International continued its acquisition strategy, acquiring more than 508 Pizza Hut units in eight transactions.
On December 28, 2011, the Company sold to Olympus Growth Fund V, L.P. and certain of its affiliates in a leveraged buyout. At the time of the sale, NPC continued to be the largest restaurant franchisee and had grown to be the eighth largest restaurant operator in the United States with 1,151 units operating in 28 states.
As part of the ongoing efforts for growth, NPC expanded its operations into the Wendy’s franchise system.
As NPC International began to grow in the Wendy's business, the company acquired more than 189 Wendy's units in six transactions during a two-year period. Also during this time, NPC became the largest Wendy’s franchisee and the fifth-largest restaurant operator in the United States based on unit count.
NPC is acquired by two family offices.
After more than 23 years of leading the company, Jim Schwartz, CEO, and Troy Cook, CFO, transitioned from their executive roles to the roles of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Company, respectively.
To further enhance the operations of Pizza Hut and Wendy’s and to continue the company’s growth strategy, NPC International established two separate and dedicated management teams for each of its operating businesses.
Carl Hauch joined the NPC team and assumed responsibilities as President and CEO of the NPC International Wendy's business.
NPC’s talented senior leadership team
is one of our greatest assets. Learn more about the NPC Executive Team.
NPC is committed to growing employees into great leaders. With opportunities across two iconic brands, your career options with NPC are limited only by your determination. Explore the path that’s right for you!
At NPC, we give back through programs like our NPC Family Fund, Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project and The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Learn more about what we’re doing to create a better tomorrow.
At NPC, we’re all about delivering FUN, so it’s no accident that we serve some of the most fun foods around (delicious Stuffed Crust Pizza, Classic Chocolate Frosty…we could go on and on). Learn more about our two iconic brands.
All NPC employees have access to NPC Connect, our intranet hub, from a smart device or home computer. Acccess NPC Connect and other resources available for current employees.