Robert Rich Sr. left a Rich legacy

Feb. 16, 2006
The frozen food pioneer and founder of Rich Products Corp. died Feb. 15 at the age of 92.

As announced on the Rich Products Corp. website:

After 92 years of innovation, passion and commitment to his family, business, industry and community, Robert E. Rich, founder and chairman of Rich Products Corp., passed away peacefully on Feb. 15, 2006, surrounded by his loving family. While Rich’s passing brings great sadness to his loved ones, and the entire Rich Products family, his life will be remembered and celebrated with the same enthusiasm and spirit that he inspired in those around him. Rich Products will continue to grow and thrive as a family business under the ongoing leadership of Bob Rich Jr.

Robert E. Rich was many things to many people. He was a loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a loyal and inspiring colleague and friend. He was an innovative and legendary entrepreneur and founder. And, he was a generous and compassionate community and industry advocate.

“I have had the honor of learning from my father as we worked side-by-side for more than 40 years in this great family business environment, experiencing first-hand his passion and commitment,” said Robert E. Rich Jr., president, Rich Products Corp. “My father shared with me as a young man the most valuable gifts a father can give – the gifts of his time, his knowledge and his trust. I will continue my father’s spirit of innovation and dedication to this company he founded more than 60 years ago.”

Bob Rich Jr. is steadfast in his commitment to maintaining Rich’s industry-leading reputation as a family-owned business dedicated to treating customers around the world like family. He and his family are also committed to continuing the company’s aggressive worldwide growth while maintaining its headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y.

“For more than 60 years, Bob Rich Sr., has been a great motivator and the source of inspiration for our company and our Associates around the world,” said William G. Gisel Jr., chief operating officer, Rich Products. “His character, wisdom and passion are ingrained deeply in the culture and spirit of Rich Products and will continue to motivate and inspire all of us who have the privilege to work for this great family business.”

As one of the founding fathers of the frozen food industry, Rich invented the world’s first non-dairy whipped topping, Rich’s Whip Topping, in 1945. When the war effort was consuming every drop of milk, Rich was investigating a “better than cream” whipped topping. Using the plentiful soybean, he created a replacement for whipped cream, which was easier to use, more stable and could be frozen. His labor resulted in Rich’s Whip Topping – still the industry’s gold standard topping used in school food service, restaurants, supermarket bakeries and other kitchens staffed by the world’s leading bakers and chefs.

“It’s hard to measure the impact Robert Rich had on the frozen food industry but suffice it to say his contributions are both monumental and legendary,” said Nevin Montgomery, president and CEO, National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association. “I had the sincere pleasure and honor of knowing and working with Bob. His entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic and commitment to treating customers like family, are inspiring and invigorating.”

Rich’s commitment to family extended beyond Associates and Customers to the community and industry. He strongly believed in the importance of strong and healthy families and concentrated financial and human resources on quality childcare and wellness, including hunger-relief, disease prevention and the cultural and fine arts.

Perhaps Rich’s strongest commitment was to educating people of all ages with an interest in food service. Rich Products partners with regional and national vocational schools that specialize in restaurant, hospitality, nutritional and general business management both to strengthen the industry Rich loved and to share with people the many opportunities that exist within it. In 2004, Rich’s made a significant pledge to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to establish the Robert E. Rich Aspiring Entrepreneurs Scholarship. Four scholarships each year, established in celebration of Robert E. Rich’s 90th birthday, support the continued education of undergraduate students pursuing careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

Rich’s life’s work resulted in a global, industry-leading company known around the world as a leading supplier and solutions provider to the food service, in-store bakery and retail marketplaces. In 2005, Rich Products celebrated its 60th birthday posting annual sales in excess of $2.5 billion. The company sells more than 2,300 products in more than 85 countries and employs more than 7,000 Associates worldwide.

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