PHOTOS BY CHARLENE MANN FORD
Not many of us can say we scored our dream job and career fresh out of college. It usually takes gaining years of experiences in the field. Ashley King, however, did just that. She got her first “big girl” job coming fresh out of SUNY Geneseo and is kicking ash ever since! She had a lot of things to consider at the time, as her boyfriend lived in Long Island. She did an internship in NYC, but her heart was here in Rochester because her grandparents live here. It all started from a conversation Ashley experienced with “Soccer Sam”. He was impressed with something she said, and he told her, “Hey, your pretty smart, when you graduate from college come here and I’ll hire you!”
Ashley did just that. She dropped her resume off at his office and he kept his word. She was called in for an interview immediately. The young, aspiring college graduate was hired on the spot to sell T-shirts for the Rochester Lancers. The company needed a merchandise rep. Soccer Sam saw on Ashley’s resume she had a part-time stint selling t-shirts at concerts and that was all she needed to get in the door. Now 7 years later, she is the President of Business Operations for all brands!
Ashley shares: “I contribute my growth within this company and my success thus far to my ambition to learn and my drive to perfect. I am a perfectionist, plain and simple. I want to learn everything. I want to do everything, and I want to do it the best that I can. When our graphic designer left the company, I learned Photo Shop and InDesign overnight, in order to make marketing ad deadlines for locations. When our marketing director retired, I had to learn how to negotiate ad buys on the fly. I stepped up where I was needed, learned the areas that were lacking in our organization and I filled all the gaps.
As I took over more roles, I was given more responsibility. I felt I had a duty and obligation to succeed. We had 29 locations and 22 franchises all depending on me to lead their company. I never stopped wanting to learn, wanting to do more and wanting to absorb more, in order to be the best leader, I could be for all of those people relying on me to do my job.
The best piece of cliché advice I was given was to be a sponge. I learned more working in my profession than in all my schooling combined. Every experience, whether good or bad, simple or complex, is a learning opportunity. Make sure you absorb it all and never stop seeking knowledge.
I also attribute my success to my loyalty and dedication. I give all I have, every day to this organization. Even staying in Rochester, when my husband had to move out of state. I am proud of the Salvatore’s Pizza name and the 41-year long story. To some it may look like just pizza, but to me it’s a company filled of many locations with career growth, and job opportunities for many Rochestarians, while also providing the community with the freshest, highest quality ingredients around, serving Rochester’s favorite food”
Ashley shares she experiences new things every day in her career. It’s versatile, pizza, donuts and soccer; marketing, legal or operations. There is never a dull moment. She enjoys and thrives off the fast-paced environments, the versatility and challenge of her career. She never decided marketing or business operations were going to be her thing, but over the years working at this company the “Pizza Passion Bug” bit her and she is addicted to the feeling she gets doing her job.
What exactly is her job? She is the President of Business Operations at both Salvatore’s and the Lancers. Her duties at Salvatore’s includes overseeing the marketing department, graphic design, legal and the franchising department, developing new locations, tracking and reporting location sales, day-to- day business operations, hosting location openings and whatever else the brand needs. At the Lancers, she again oversees the marketing and graphic design, conducts game day productions, and serves as the game day host. She does it all.
Ashley shares her favorite memory while working for Salvatore’s/The Lancers as: “At Salvatore’s, my favorite memory was opening the 1872 Café. This was the 2nd major store opening I took part in. The first one, I was the most hands on with. From negotiating the deal, helping to hire staff, menu development and design, store lay out, ordering mugs, retail, décor to also running the marketing initiatives and actually handling the accounting and books for the Café were all things I had to oversee. The most memorable moment for me was the ribbon cutting ceremony of this location.
Salvatore’s, prides itself on their success. Here’s what we didn’t tell you, Ashley Maria King is 29-years-old. She works alongside Silvio Fantauzzo
We currently sell over 40,000 donuts per year at Donuts Delite, with the help of Ashley’s marketing. Our pubs and saloons sell tons of craft beer, including Lancers Lager which she helped negotiate with 3H brewers. She created the artwork used on the cans. At first, several long-time franchises and team members questioned who’s this young girl? They soon learned to appreciate and respect how hard she works to help them, and their families remain successful.
She handles the responsibilities of four key staff members and makes it look easy. We are ranked in the top 100 pizza companies in the country. Our sales per location are double and triple the national average thanks to her creative marketing campaigns. Sales are over 30 million. She’s helped open several new Salvatore’s locations”.
In 2017, Ashley brought back the outside Lancers. She also launched the Rochester Lady Lancers Women’s soccer team. This was awesome as it was the year which marked the 50th anniversary of the Rochester Lancers brand in our community. Ashley was very proud with the launch of the women’s team. One of the most meaningful parts of her job is being a part of the charitable work done in the companies. The company supports the Breast Cancer Coalition by using pink boxes and donating thousands of dollars every month. In honor of the Salvatore’s and Camp Good Days 40th anniversary, a $40,000 donation was made!
Ashley undergoes a struggle she lives with where she experiences anxiety. This caused a barrier in her past relationships, friendship activities and day-to-day living. She worked through this by obtaining education, using self-help techniques and finding confidence.
She shares: “While I will never fully overcome my anxiety, I have learned to understand it and control it, so it never stops me from achieving my dreams. This career has helped me grow in having confidence as an individual. Looking back, I can’t believe how far I have come. I never imagined I would be standing in the middle of the Dome Arena at an indoor Lancers game, microphone in hand, conducting player interviews in front of thousands of people. I never saw myself leading a press conference or being part of a ribbon cutting ceremony with politicians. Responsibility and exposure to these things in my job, one day at a time has grown my confidence in myself, boosted my self esteem and self-trust and molded me into a less anxious and more vocal individual.
Salvatore “Soccer Sam” is my mentor. Sam started Salvatore’s as a high school project in 1978. It grew into a successful brand that provides jobs and opportunities for thousands of people in the Rochester area over the past 41 years. Understanding his story, inspires me as a young business professional, inspires me to work hard and dream big. He has more passion and works harder than any individual I have ever met. Working under his guidance has made me the professional that I am today. His constant encouragement and drive pushed me past my personal limitations of anxiety and shyness. I admire his creativity, his endless energy, his business intellect and his pizza passion”.
We wonder how does Ashley do all of this and still maintain her relationship at home?
Ashley tells RWO: “If you want both a successful career and strong family, you can have it. You have to give great effort towards both, but the key is to have the support behind you. I have the support of my husband. He understands my demanding career and all that it entails. Living in another state away from each other, long hours was difficult. Late-night emails, calls and texts often interrupted “date night” and our weekends. Marek sees that my job not only supports us financially, but that this job also fulfills me. I love working and thrive off the demanding and busy atmosphere that surrounds me. It is a part of me.
I know that being a doctor is his dream and we are working together to make both of our dreams come true. I have the support of my parents and grandparents who never miss a Lancers game. I have the support of my boss to allow me to work remotely when needed- in fact he encourages me to take more breaks in order to spend time with my husband and family. My co-worker Kayla steps up to the plate when I am out of town and handles most of the day-to-day for the Lancers to assist me. I can balance because I have the supportive hands around me”.”
In closing Ashley offers inspiration to our readers about following their dreams.
She shares: “Dreams are just dreams, until YOU decide to make them into something. Exercise courage and exert confidence and take action towards your passion. If you do not yet know your passion, don’t be anxious to try new things. Interests can evolve and you should explore until you find something to excite you.
I can look back and I think if I made different actions or different choices, certain outcomes would be different, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I would not be who I am or where I am today without all of the choices and outcomes leading up to this”.
***Salvatore’s is a pizzeria franchise in Rochester, NY that started in 1978. Today, Salvatore’s has 29 full menu locations, the historic Donuts Delite, Arthur Treacher Fish and Chips, Speedy Slice, along with pizza pubs, Garage Door and Salvatore’s saloon style concepts. Pizza outlets are also at the stadiums and the airport. Salvatore’s celebrated 41 years of business this July.