THE COLONY, Texas — Tim Taft, president and chief executive officer of Pizza Inn since March 31, knows the challenge to revive the 47-year-old pizza chain is a stiff one. But he believes it's possible because of the brand's great heritage and its dedicated franchisees.

"Our system shows its age in certain areas, but we have a time-tested, recognized brand that gives us a solid platform for the future," Taft said in a news release.

Taft, formerly the chief operating officer for the 745-unit Whataburger chain, laid out a four-step plan for the company's turnaround:

* strengthen franchise performance with solid leadership and innovation

* strengthen corporate restaurant performance

* develop a new look for the concept

* improve pricing and service at its Norco distribution arm.

Taft reiterated his personal commitment to the company's improvement by describing his incentive-centered pay package.

"(M)y employment agreement calls for a net salary of $1 in the first year, performance-based bonuses and a grant of 500,000 stock options, with only 50,000 vesting in the first year," he said. "In the end, we're all working toward the same goals."

In the second 12 months of Taft's agreement, his minimum base salary will be $300,000, with benefits and bonuses determined by the board of directors. His second-year bonus will be a minimum of $200,000 if he achieves performance goals.

Taft can exercise portions of his stock options at $2.50 a share and at predetermined periods. He can exercise any shares remaining in his initial 500,000-share incentive package upon his third anniversary in the top post.

Taft replaced former CEO and president Ronald Parker, who was fired in December for allegedly violating his employment agreement (read also Pizza Inn officially fires Parker, but lawsuit is expected). In Parker's last full year with the company, he earned about $1.1 million. About half of that sum was a guaranteed bonus Parker received despite the company's decline during his three-year tenure.

Read related Pizza Inn articles ...

* New Pizza Inn CEO eager to start turnaround
* New Pizza Inn CEO can buy 5% of company
* Will Parker's departure from Pizza Inn end an era of greed?
* Pizza Inn says CEO Parker is overpaid

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