Launching Pad changing hands next week

New owners plan to keep the tradition going

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski The Launching Pad, on Airport Drive in Shawano, is under new ownership after Domenic and Sal Badalamenti and Chad Kary purchased the business from Wendy and John Gueths.

Wendy Gueths had worked at the Launching Pad in Shawano starting years before she and her husband John purchased the business nearly 14 years ago.

She was only 14 when she began as an employee 33 years ago. Her mother also worked there part-time.

Later, she met John, who had a carpentry business, and he also became an employee.

It was in a way an extended family business, owned by family friend Duane “Duke” Drews.

When Drews decided to sell, the Gueths saw an opportunity to take over and continue the business.

John ended his carpentry business and devoted himself full-time to the Launching Pad.

Wendy, who grew up on a farm, considered the Launching Pad “our own family farm.”

“We’ve been there our entire lives,” she said.

But the Gueths, with their children — a big part of the business — either at or headed off to college, have decided the time has come to let go of the Launching Pad, which will change hands again on Monday.

Luigis’s Pizza and Pasta owners, Domenic and Sal Badalamenti, along with Luigi’s General Manager Chad Kary, will become the new owners once the deal closes Monday.

Kary said he and the Badalamentis jumped at the opportunity to buy the business and the reputation that went along with it.

“It’s been an institution for years,” he said. “It’s a solid local establishment with a great following and great product.”

Kary said there’s no interest in changing that.

“We’ll keep it as it is, or as close as possible,” he said.

Though the new owners’ own personality may rub off, Kary said, the Launching Pad will not become “Luigi’s East” and customers will be unlikely to notice any change.

“There’s no intent to change a formula that works,” he said.

Kary said plans are to keep as much of the existing staff in place as possible.

“We want to take their business model and do it justice, keep it going,” he said.

The Gueths will also help the new owners get underway.

“We’ll help them get going and teach them what we’re doing,” Wendy said.

John and Wendy will take a lot of memories with them.

“The friendships we’ve made, the support from the community, will not be forgotten,” Wendy said. “We’re happy to be leaving on a good note, on good terms.”

She said those relationships include friendships and families she grew up with, regular customers as well as summer visitors.

“We’ll miss those people,” Wendy said. “We thank God for everything we’ve been blessed with.”

She added that she and her husband might be leaving the business but they’re not leaving the community.

“We’ll be around,” she said.