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gung ho story

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key cuts the ribbon on the first Gung Ho store

A Different Kind of Pizza Company…

Gung Ho began in 2010, when the pizza game in Beijing was very different from today. Founders Jade Gray and John O’Loghlen looked at the industry and thought they could do a little better. So they created a new kind of pizza, healthy wholewheat flour, rustic thin crust, fresh gourmet toppings in new unique combinations. Then they wrapped it all up in a color no food company would ever choose – bright pink.

The choice of color was more than just a random selection. It represents the Gung Ho attitude, the desire to not just stand out from the crowd, but to stand apart from it, to go in a different direction. The off-the-wall marketing, collaborations with local brands, the eagerly anticipated pizza box cover designs – 16 of them now, all by local artists – all stem from the need to do something for the fun of it.

But pizza and marketing are not the only thing we’re known for. We’re also well known for our Green sustainability program. Headed by our environmental manager, the Gung Ho! Green Team has switched to recycled paper for menus and packaging, cutting energy and water use, and reducing waste by 42.6% in 2013.

But perhaps what Gung Ho is best known for is our commitment to service. To quote founder Jade, “Service is all about great people. If you can’t get great people, you can’t do great service. We spend a lot of time finding these amazing people and taking care of them, help them develop and grow. At the end of the day, we’re not a pizza company, we’re a people company.”

Go! Go! Go!

Gung Ho! Values & Vision

Gung Ho! Vision & Values

None of this would be possible without what we believe is the best team in China. Seriously. Our guys (and girls) give it their all – day in and day out! They aren’t afraid to speak their mind, but they also aren’t afraid to get involved and be a part of the solution. They take care of business and each other with a smile on their face.

Because that’s the Gung Ho! way.


Dare to be Different

A little or a lot, it doesn’t matter. Just different. We believe that life happens out at the edges. Away from the pack. Outside of the box where ideas overlap and become… Interesting. That’s where we like to live. From New Zealand to China, and all around the world. By plane, train or motorbike. To bold bright colors and a new kind of pizza. To local musicians and up and coming artists. Doing our bit to help people and the planet. And daring to have a dream that’s just a little bit bigger than we are. A little bit different. That’s Gung Ho.


Change Peoples’ Lives

From the delivery guy bringing a smile to you face, the customer service girl remembering your name, or a great tasty pizza that hits the spot, we like to think we’re changing your life a little bit for the better.

But we try to do way more than that.

We care about the community and the environment. We are currently developing a comprehensive sustainability plan.

We teach our team life skills like personal finance and goal attainment, we send them to school to learn new skills and accreditations in areas like cuisine, accounting and human resources. We teach our young leaders the latest bleeding edge global management techniques like the Rockefeller Habits, Good to Great and Topgrading.

When they have family problems we’ll help them out and when they’re sick we’ll take them to the hospital. And if they rock it hard enough, for long enough, we make them partners.

Dare to be Different


At Gung Ho! Pizza we have 7 core values that govern everything we do:

1. Brutal Honesty:

Encourage open and honest communication in all things! Without honesty there is no trust and without trust there is no team. Whether it’s players telling their shift leaders how it is on the front line, or you guys emailing John and Jade critical feedback, honesty is a key part of the Gung Ho! game. After all, you can’t solve a problem – or improve something – if you don’t know about it.

2. Take Responsibility

It’s not just about what’s written in our job descriptions, we at Gung Ho! understand that we also have a responsibility to our team, our customers and our company! Because it’s ours. See that empty pan over there, or that customer waiting? That’s our pan, our customer. And our responsibility.

3. Take Care of Gung Ho! People

A “Gung Ho! person” is anyone that comes into contact with Gung Ho! That includes customers, suppliers, local government types and of course, each other! We try to treat all Gung Ho! people like family. Even if we don’t always agree, we’ll always treat each other with respect and help when we can.

4. Find a Way

Mei ban fa” is not part of the Gung Ho! vocabulary! There’s always a solution and we pride ourselves on thinking inside and outside the box until we find it!

5. Gung Ho! Attitude

What is the Gung Ho! attitude? The Gung Ho! attitude is “Go! Go! Go!”; it’s a can-do, go out and get ‘em state of mind. We’re willing to take risks, and go way out of our way to serve you.

6. Develop Yourself

Like Confucius, we believe that self-development is one of the most important things in life, whether it’s by learning a new skill, overcoming a challenge at work or just reading a book. As a company we take immense pride in the fact that we promote almost exclusively from within.

7. Work Hard, Play Hard

Self-explanatory! That’s just part of the Gung Ho! way. Sure, we work hard. We work hard for the pride of a job well done, but also because that’s what we do. We work to the best of our abilities. But we also make sure we take time for ourselves. We’re just as serious about our personal lives, our friends and family, as we are about our work.

The Gung Ho! Bros

John O'Loghlen & Jade Gray pick up some pizza inspiration

John O’Loghlen & Jade Gray

Wanaka native Jade Gray flew to China in 1997, along with 200 head of Black Angus cattle to manage a farm in the remote Chinese city of Tieling. Since then, he founded a chain of gyms before diving into the fast evolving Chinese food and beverage scene.

His café/bar Lush, located in the center of Beijing’s university district, has won the award for Best Student Hangout 12 years running, and led to the creation of his second F&B venture, Sugar Shack Pizza.
Auckland-born John O’Loghlen first came to China in 2005 with Goldman Sachs as part of the the China Netcom IPO team before a stint as Asia Development Manager for gobal pizza giant Dominos.

With a perspective and on-the-ground experience that encompasses both ends of the burgeoning pizza explosion, Jade and John have combined practical know-how and global best-practices in the pursuit of their latest venture: Gung Ho! Pizza.

Why “Gung Ho”?

Where does the name “Gung Ho” come from anyway?

Go on. Guess.  You probably know that the phrase ‘gung ho’ represents a kind-of enthusiastic or dedicated, can-do attitude, and that’s reason enough right? Some of you may also know that it’s used a lot in the US military – the marines specifically – and some of you might even know that the marines originally took it from Chinese soldiers while on tour in Shanghai during the Sino-Japanese war. All true incidentally.

But how many of you know that the Chinese originally got it from a Kiwi [New Zealander]?

The term was picked up by United States Marine Corps Major Evans Carlson from his New Zealand friend, Rewi Alley, one of the founders of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives. Carlson explained in a 1943 interview: “I was trying to build up the same sort of working spirit I had seen in China where all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to put that idea over. I told the boys about it again and again. I told them of the motto of the Chinese Cooperatives, Gung Ho. It means Work Together…”

The mandarin name of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives? Gōng Yè Hé Zuò Shè; Gong He or Gung Ho for short.

Rewi Alley - The Original Gung Ho Guy

Rewi Alley: The Original Gung Ho! Guy

By the age of 29 Rewi Alley had done little that would set him apart from any of his contemporaries. Like thousands of other young New Zealand men he served overseas during the First World War. After ‘six years of loneliness and struggle’ and intrigued by what he had read about China, Alley left New Zealand in December 1926 ‘to go and have a look at the Chinese revolution’. He would stay for 60 years, becoming one of China’s best-known and best-loved foreigners.

Alley arrived in China on 21 April 1927. Over the next 10 years, working variously as a fire officer, factory inspector and relief worker, he laboured among the Chinese trying to improve their living and working conditions. He came to greater prominence during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, after he was involved in efforts to found the Association of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (INDUSCO), commonly known by the slogan Alley coined, ‘Gung Ho/Work Together’. Gung Ho aimed to organise small-scale self-supporting cooperatives which created employment for workers, while continuing production to support resistance against the Japanese. A Time magazine article from April 1940 noted:

“The advantages of cooperatives were many … The units were mobile, easily disguised, easily housed, and were not, like big factories, obvious targets for Japanese bombers. They supplied military needs which no other source in China could produce so efficiently … Above all they provided millions of refugees who trekked west on the heels of freedom with the hope of lasting relief in the form of jobs … Cooperatives entirely revitalized whole towns.”

As part of the Gung Ho movement Alley dreamed of training young Chinese in the skills that the co-operatives needed. In 1940 he was involved in setting up schools in various parts of the country. Some failed, but one in a tiny village called Shuangshipu (Feng Xi’an) was revitalised in 1941 under the leadership of George Hogg. Alley returned there often and assisted in its move to Shandan in December 1942, when the school was threatened by the Japanese advance. After Hogg in July 1945 Alley took over as headmaster.

By 1953 Alley had settled in Beijing. He immersed himself in writing about China and travelled extensively, speaking on behalf of international peace agencies, such as the World Peace Council. But his great achievements, Gung Ho and the school at Shandan, were never far from his mind. In his 80s he and other Gung Ho veterans successfully set about reviving the organization. He also conceived a plan for a new Shandan School that would meet the present-day needs of the region. It opened on 21 April 1987, the 60th anniversary of his arrival in China.

Before and after his death on 27 December 1987 the New Zealand and Chinese governments honoured Alley for his work in China. They have continued to do so in recent decades. In 1997 and 2007 events were held to mark the 100th and 110th anniversary of his birth.

Gung Ho! Food!

Gourmet Pizza

What’s so special about Gung Ho! Pizza? We start with the freshest ingredients we can find, even if we have to go all the way to New Zealand! Fresh tomatoes, topped with Kiwi mozzarella, on top of a hand-rolled thin wholewheat crust made of organic flour from Heilongjiang chucked in the oven and baked to perfection.

Sure, we can do the basics but you haven’t tried a Gung Ho! Pizza until you’ve tried one of our unique combinations. Slow-roasted NZ lamb topped with fresh rocket and mint tzaziki? Check. Local smoked tofu and hand-made spinach pesto? Check. That’s a Gung Ho! Pizza.

Fresh Salad

How do you make a great salad? You start with great ingredients. From classics like Greek salads with fresh parsely and imported feta to our Thai Beef salad featuring grass-fed beef, fresh Asian mushrooms and authentic nuoc mam dressing, Gung Ho! is famous for it’s generous and tasty fresh salads.

Food Safety

Food safety is our number one priority at Gung Ho! Pizza. We use strict safety protocols for every step of our preparation and cooking process; every member of our kitchen and management teams must pass our internationally approved food safety standards training and exam, and maintain these standards through our rigorous systems and spot checks.

The Kiwi Konnection

New Zealand is one of the purest places in the world. Clean air and clean water creates the best produce. That’s a thought we like to keep near and dear. Wherever possible, we like to use authentic Kiwi products, like our Anchor mozzarella and dairy. That’s our Kiwi connection.

Celebrity Chefs

We love new ideas, and in China – the fasted growing food space in the world – you’ve got to keep light on your feet. To do this, we rely on local heroes, celebrity chefs with a reputation for doing something different to help keep us fresh. Chefs like Yao Yang, founder of culinary landmark Saffron and CHI, and author of Yao Yang’s Kitchen, Vietnamese-Canadian Jun Trinh, star of the travel and cooking show “Can I Borrow Your Kitchen?”, not to mention Xiao Bai, author of Vegetarian Diary, a blog with over half a million followers.