Mark Herman, Chief Executive Officer of Dion’s, is celebrating 30 years with the company. The milestone is especially notable given that he was recently recognized as “CEO of the Year” by Albuquerque Business First.
Mark started with the company as a high school student making salads and pizzas. He rose through the ranks to lead the company to its Vision of being “the most admired regional restaurant brand in the country.” Today, the company has more than 1600 employees and is number one in the nation for average unit sales in the pizza industry.
In reflecting on his first visit to Dion’s as a 12-year-old, Mark remembers dipping a slice of pepperoni pizza into creamy Ranch dressing. “My sister showed me the trick and I’ve been a fan ever since.” After getting a summer job at Dion’s a few years later, which he did in the footsteps of his older siblings, he notes “I never thought the food business would be my career. Dion’s was just a fun place to be and I happened to make money while I was there. It simply didn’t cross my mind that I would do that for a living.”
After graduating from college with a degree in Economics, he had a brief stint at Mass Mutual. Like the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, he started cold calling prospects and tried to sell them insurance and investments. After a short time and hardly any sales, he started to miss Dion’s, and he came back to manage his first store in 1991. By 1998 Mark was overseeing all seven locations. Then in 2000 he moved to Salt Lake City to open the company’s first out-of-state location. Stating this move as a turning point in his career he said “As a company, we were young and naïve. We didn’t have a single store outside of Albuquerque at the time, so we struggled to re-create the true Dion’s experience 600 miles away.” The store didn’t survive but Mark came back to Albuquerque with a new perspective on growth. “Salt Lake was a great investment in my education. It taught me about new market selection, hiring, and logistics that are crucial to our growth today.” Since then, the company has successfully opened stores in Texas and Colorado.
Jon Patten, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Dion’s, said “Dion’s has always been a work in progress. Mark has a great way of being patient, focusing on what is important, and being inclusive, which cultivates our family culture here at Dion’s. I am proud of the contributions Mark has made to both the company and the community over his career.” Mark jokes that upon being promoted to CEO, Jon gave him the solid advice to “not do anything too stupid.”
Commenting on the “CEO of the Year” recognition, Mr. Herman noted “There are a number of talented CEOs in the state who lead a range of organizations, from construction firms to high-tech firms to non-profits and more. At heart, I am still just a pizza maker. Yet, I am extremely proud of the impact we have on the community by training young people and giving them a solid foundation for many other successful careers. Most employees won’t stay with Dion’s for decades like I have, and it’s my job to ensure that while they are here at Dion’s they know they matter, they know they are capable, and they develop skills that will help them wherever they go. I look forward to the day someone else receives this recognition and states their first job was at Dion’s as well.”
Outside of Dion’s, Mr. Herman has two children, sits on the Boards of the Albuquerque Academy Alumni Council, the Golden Apple Foundation and Horizons at the Bosque School, and is an avid skier.
Dion’s is known for its tasty pizza and world famous Ranch dressing, as well as providing opportunities for its employees and communities to flourish. It was recently ranked as a top-five quick-service restaurant in the nation based on overall experience by Sandelman and Associates. Dion’s was founded in 1978 by Jon Patten and Bill Scott in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 38 years, the company has grown to 23 stores and 1,600 employees in three states. For more information, visit www.dions.com or call 505-858-1010, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DionsPizza, Twitter: @dionspizza or Instagram: www.instagram.com/dionspizza.