METROPOLIS, Ill. — Ethan Badger of Paducah has a guiding mindset: “Pick one thing, and do it well.”

It seems to have worked. At 25 years old, Badger is the owner of Domino’s Pizza in this southern Illinois town.

Badger told The Sun he’s always nursed a good-natured competitive streak — whether sports or pizza-making races in the Mount Vernon Domino’s Pizza kitchen where he worked.

The quality has carried him from working as a dishwasher at 16 years old to holding the keys to his own store.

While the feat sounds high-powered, Badger said he’s simply “enjoying the journey.”

“Buying a store is like buying a car,” said Badger, who’s owned the Domino’s on West 10th Street for three weeks. “You can buy a Ferrari — a brand-new store with all the bells and whistles, or you can buy an ’87 Corvette that needs some bodywork and a new exhaust.”

Badger plans to renovate the store later and, in his words, “see the process come together.”

He credits his father for helping him get a job in the store at 16 years old.

“When I turned 18, I started closing the store as a shift lead. When I turned 20, my boss pulled me into his office and asked if I wanted to take Domino’s seriously and start a career with it. Obviously, I said yeah,” Badger said.

The middle child of seven siblings, Badger, set out a roadmap stretching years ahead after he became general manager. The Domino’s Black Franchisee Fund provided $50,000 in working capital and ongoing mentorship from area representatives.

Domino’s workers must be general manager for an allotted number of years to become a franchisee.

“Having a big family makes you enjoy being around people and wanting to spread the same vibe,” Badger said. “There’s an environment you can create; it has its own culture as a small family. I want to make sure my employees get birthday cards — small things like that.”

Some ownership conditions persist; after five years, Badger can choose to relocate the store or buy the property outright from a current lease.

However, he has no desire to leave or switch tracks.

“I want to stay as long as I’m physically able to,” he said, adding approximately 80% of franchisees with Domino’s once worked in entry-level positions. “I’m hyper-focused on just this one business because I feel like the best quality in what I do is not to get sidetracked.”

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