Tom Monaghan is an American entrepreneur with a net worth of $400 million. He earned his fortune as the co-founder of Domino’s Pizza. He was the firm’s sole owner in 1998 when he sold Domino’s to Bain Capital for $1 billion.
Monaghan also owned the MLB team the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1992. After he retired from Domino’s in 1998, Monaghan started focusing his attention on promoting some conservative Catholic causes.
Tom Monaghan was born on March 25, 1937, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His Father died when he was four years old. Since his mother struggled to raise him alone, he and his younger brother James were sent to the St. Joseph Home for Children in 1943. Tom remained in the orphanage for six years where he embraced Catholicism since the facility was managed by the Felician Sisters of Livonia.
He later went to St. Joseph’s Seminary aiming to become a priest. Nonetheless, Monaghan got expelled from the institution for many disciplinary offenses. In 1956, he accidentally enlisted in the US Marine Corps but he wanted to join the Army. Several years later, he got an honorable discharge.
After he went back to Michigan, Tom Monaghan enrolled at the University of Michigan and started working toward a degree in architecture. In 1960, he and his brother James paid $500 for a small pizza parlor in Ypsilanti called DomiNick’s. They invested $500 and got a $900 bank loan to help with the various operations.
Initially, the store struggled but Tom then hit on a plan to focus on delivering to campuses and colleges. He created a pizza delivery box that ensured that more pizzas were delivered at once. He carefully rolled out his stores in college towns. In the mid-1960s, the original owner of DomiNick’s asked Tom to stop using his name on the expanding empire. Tom agreed and later landed on a new name:
In the early years as the firm expanded, Monaghan famously traded his brother a VW Beetle to get his half of the business.
He continued focusing majorly on delivering pizzas to college campuses, and innovated once more – this time he came up with a new insulated box to help prevent the pies from getting crushed when stacked.
Through the rigorously controlled ecosystem of franchising, Tom Monaghan managed to spread his business to several other college towns in the United States, and by the mid-80s, Domino’s franchises were getting opened daily. The firm continued to grow, opening an international store in Winnipeg, Canada in 1983.
Later, his business expanded to other nations including Japan, the UK, China, the Dominican Republic, and many others.
In 1998, after 38 years of ownership, Monaghan retired from his top position at Domino’s and sold his 93% ownership of the firm to the Boston-based investment company Bain Capital. That deal was estimated to be worth about $1 billion.
Tom purchased the Detroit Tigers in 1983 for $53 million and in 1984 the team won the World Series. In 1992, he sold the Detroit Tigers for $85 million to another pizza tycoon – Little Caesars Pizza founder Mike Ilitch.
Tom Monaghan And His Other Possessions
Among the many other possessions that Tom accumulated from his Wealth over the years, he had an ostentatious office suite at the Domino’s headquarters. Inside the suite were leather-tiled floors complemented by lots of Frank Lloyd Wright furnishings, which included an oak dining table set he bought for $1.6 million.
Monaghan also purchased a portion of Drummond Island in Michigan, where he constructed a private resort designed in homage to Wright. He also bought almost 300 cars, including an incredibly rare Bugatti that cost over $8 million.
He also acquired a Gulfstream private jet, a helicopter, and a yacht.
Life Changing Experience
In the late 1990s, Monaghan had a life-changing experience. After he read the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, primarily a chapter on pride, Tom decided to turn his life around. From this point onwards, he decided to dedicate his life to philanthropy.
He sold Domino’s in 1998 to Bain Capital for $1 billion. At the time of publication, he has given away over $500 million of his fortune. He wants to eventually give all his fortune to charity.
His philanthropic efforts have been majorly focused on Catholic charities. Tom has launched multiple Catholic colleges. In 1998 he launched Ave Maria University in Florida and Ave Maria College in Michigan.
Currently, he manages Ave Maria Mutual funds, an investment company focusing mainly on socially responsible investments.
Gyrene Burger Company
Monaghan launched another restaurant business in 2011 with the creation of Gyrene Burger Company. The firm used a military-themed delivery concept in homage to Tom Monaghan’s service in the Marines and gave incentives to military veterans.
Gyrene had its flagship store in Naples, Florida before heading to Knoxville, Tennessee. The firm closed all locations in the summer of 2018.
In 1962, Monaghan married Marjorie Zybach. They met while he was delivering pizza. The couple has four daughters named Susan, Margaret, Barbara, and Mary.