Westra named GM of local Pizza Ranch

Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

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HULL – Hull native Nate Westra has been named general manager of the local Pizza Ranch restaurant, the first store in what has grown into a group of more than 171 “Ranches” in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. Westra assumed the role from Tony Madsen, who has been named a district manager for Orange City-headquartered Pizza Ranch.

Westra, 27, had worked as assistant manager of the Hull store for just nine months when he succeeded Madsen just over a week ago.

Westra graduated from Boyden-Hull High School in 2004, then attended Northwestern College for one year. He transferred to the University of Northern Iowa where, in 2008, he earned his degree in business administration.

Prior to returning home to work for Pizza Ranch, Westra worked for Wells Fargo Financial Services, doing auditing, loan servicing and underwriting.

“Tony’s a great guy and he had an opening as assistant manager,” Westra recounted recently. “Then Tony left and now I am general manager; I didn’t expect that.

“I’ve always respected what he did here at Pizza Ranch, taking the old (store) to the new and the opportunity that came with it,” Westra said.

Westra will schedule and manage 20 to 30 employees, 95 percent of them part-time workers. Many of them are high school students who are active in sports or have other commitments and need to work changeable, irregular, shift schedules.

The new manager said that a lot of his job is behind the scenes: scheduling just the right number of staff to keep the product good and get it out fast; keeping up with inventory, and forecasting sales.

Westra is also responsible for working with churches, schools and other groups to let them know the various ways Pizza Ranch can help them. That includes fundraising.

Another service is supporting and scheduling Impact Nights, formerly called Tip Nights. An Impact Night is a fundraiser to benefit a specific need within the community. Often it is to help a family with big medical bills or for a school trip, church mission, equipment for the local fire department or another local improvement project. The volunteer waiters receive a percentage of the night’s sales, Westra said.

As manager, he will also be responsible for booking the meeting/party room at the restaurant.

All that will keep Westra plenty busy. But he is also looking forward to the work of moving his family from Polk City, Iowa, to Hull. His wife, Jessica, a native of Le Mars, Iowa, works as a radiology technician and cares for the couple’s two children, daughter Peyton, 4, and son Camden, 1.

Jessica Westra and the children will stay in Polk City until their house sells, Westra said, but she is already looking in this area for a job in her profession.