If you’ve ever eaten Dogtown Pizza and marveled at how delicious it is, you have Shane Schaper to thank for that. As Dogtown Pizza’s Production Manager, Shane is responsible for ensuring that every pizza we create meets the standard of scrumptious excellence you’ve come to expect. And as Rick and Meredith Schaper’s second oldest son, you could argue that his love of St. Louis-style pizza is in his blood. It may as well be: Shane’s enthusiasm for the family business is palpable.
Every morning at 6 am, Shane walks into our facility with a contagious passion that guarantees St. Louis is going to get the pizza it deserves…and he and his team are going to have a good time while they do it. Meet Shane Schaper: he’s the guy who makes Dogtown Pizza happen.
Starting at the Beginning
When getting to know Shane, it’s best to start at the beginning of Dogtown Pizza itself. Shane was in 5th grade when his dad made that first frozen pizza in their Dogtown neighborhood kitchen. Now 20, he speaks fondly of the days when he would help his dad make pizzas. Shane was responsible for weighing out the cheese in a little bowl, which Rick would take and distribute on 12 pizzas at a time. Along with now General Manager Kyle McNeil, Shane was one of his dad’s first workers and it has prepared him well for his current role as Production Manager.
“It’s all I know,” he says, explaining that he spent almost every summer and spring break (and most weekends) since then, helping his dad grow the business and developing the production process into the lean, mean, pizza-making machine that it is. In fact, it was because of Shane and his keen eye for detail and efficiency that the production process has developed the way it has.
A Keen Eye for Details
Simply put, Dogtown Pizza wouldn’t operate the way it does without Shane. A self-professed micromanager and lover of fine details, Shane is in charge of our pizza makers, the hard-working crew of guys and gals who make and package thousands of pizzas every day. Once he knows what varieties they need to make for the day, Shane prioritizes the production order, chooses who will be making what, and from there the team is off. Amid the flurry of assembly line activity, Shane is there – making sure everyone is doing what they should be, and ensuring that the pizzas are made with the utmost care and quality.
He’s at the point where he can simply look at a pizza and know exactly how it should look and the proper amount of ingredients it needs. No pizza makes it off the assembly line without Shane’s watchful eye giving it the stamp of approval first. As if that weren’t enough, he even dives into the trenches himself, making hundreds of pizzas with his own hands.
A Leader Above All Else
Above all, Shane is a leader. He’s responsible for hiring and firing decisions. He trains the crew and coaches them when they make mistakes. He decides when they take breaks and go on lunch. And through it all, he’s right there with them in the trenches, making hundreds of pizzas by hand and keeping the crew motivated while he does it. It’s a huge responsibility for someone at any age, but especially so for someone who’s only 20.
“It’s challenging to manage all those details while managing a crew AND making pizzas at the same time,” he says. “It’s not an easy job but I really enjoy what I do.” And you can tell.
Shane could talk all day about the awesome people on his crew. And is it hard managing people who are sometimes 10-15 years older than he is?
“Not really,” he admits. “It was different in the beginning (before being made production manager). But I created the environment we work in and designed things to be the most convenient that they could be. I ended up making things work and people would ask me, ‘How did you do that?’ And when new workers come in, they see that everyone listens to me. It all just works.”
Business (and Pizza) in the Blood
Shane one day hopes to take the reins from Rick and continue his dad’s legacy of making locally-crafted St. Louis-style pizzas and providing jobs for the people of St. Louis.
“(My dad) is the best boss anybody could ask for,” he says of Rick. He only hopes he can fill those shoes.
In the meantime, he enjoys working side-by-side with his mom, dad, and two brothers, Austin and Ricky, as they all strive to share the deliciousness that is St. Louis-style pizza with the world. And his favorite part about all it?
“Seeing the team every day,” he says. “They make it all worth it.”