Lifelong businessman and philanthropist Jeno Paulucci will receive the first International Lifetime Achievement Award for Activism, Entrepreneurship and Leadership at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards on Nov. 20.
Paulucci, 86, whose food products have been enjoyed by millions of Americans over several generations, will be saluted in part for his humanitarian efforts, which have benefited his employees, other people and several communities and industries throughout his business career.
Nicknamed the "frozen food king," Paulucci created such well-known food brands as Chun King Chinese foods, Jeno's Pizza Rolls, and Michelina's frozen entrees. Paulucci has created and built more than 50 companies and organizations worldwide over the course of a career that spans nearly 70 years. His current company, Luigino’s Inc., is among the world's largest packers of frozen entrees.
In between, Jeno and his family developed the planned city of
His achievements as an entrepreneur are exceeded by his record as a generous employer, philanthropist and crusader for the "common man," Ernst & Young judges say. For instance, when Paulucci sold Chun King to R.J. Reynolds, he distributed $2 million as a tax-free gift to employees who helped him build the company.
In 1972, Paulucci was named U.S. Employer of the Year by the President's Council on Employment of the Handicapped and the National Assn. of Manufacturers for his policies of hiring, training and employing -- at union wages in unionized plants -- the disabled, the disadvantaged, ex-convicts and substance addicts whom others considered unemployable. Since 1944, every one of Paulucci's plants has been unionized, and in all that time his companies have never experienced a single hour of labor problems, an Ernst & Young statement says.
He has been involved in many works outside of the food industry. The son of an iron ore miner, he founded NEMO Inc., the North Eastern Minnesota Organization for Economic Education, in 1960 and launched a campaign to change the state constitution to enable steel industry investment of nearly $3 billion in Minnesota's ailing mining region, creating 20,000 jobs and another $1 billion more in tax revenue. He continues to research ways to improve processing, including high iron content taconite nuggets.
He has advised every president from Eisenhower through the first George Bush; endowed the Jeno and Lois Paulucci Family Foundation; served as presidential emissary to Italy; and founded, financed and led for its first 17 years the National Italian American Foundation in Washington.
"Ernst & Young is proud to celebrate Jeno Paulucci's legacy and pleased to recognize his exceptional leadership that has positively influenced communities here in the