Finding and inspiring talented employees helped Monaghan to build Domino's from a single Ypsilanti pizzeria in 1960 to seventy-six locations around the country by the end of 1973. But his trouble seeing people's faults also led to repeated disasters. In his 1986 autobiography, Pizza Tiger, he described how, as a young Marine, he was swindled out his life's savings by a "happy-go-lucky character driving a shiny '59 Buick." An early partner in Domino's bled the company of cash, then almost destroyed it with his debts.
By 1974, though, Monaghan was having doubts about his ability to run a big company and wanted to get all the help he could. "Our management structure had grown extremely complex," he wrote in Pizza Tiger. "The lines of authority were tangled in overlapping areas of responsibility, and it was getting to be too much for me to continue running single-handed." Looking through the business section of the Ann Arbor News one Sunday, he came upon an advertisement that instantly caught his attention:
An Important Message to All Business People Here is a brief accurate story about a real outstanding man who has just completed his latest project and who wants to go to work for a good group of people in the general area of this city ... This man has been in the capacity of General Manager and President of most every entity he's been involved with directly and he is used to starting over again and again ... He has an outstanding youthful open attitude realistic but full of confidence which he helps others build in themselves ... You should get to know this fellow.Could this be the man he had been looking for to help him run Domino's? Despite the appalling grammar and the obvious red flags like "he is used to starting over again and again," Monaghan felt he had to find out, so he set up a meeting.