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Hamdi Ulukaya, the Founder, President and CEO of Chobani, based in the United States, was on 8 June named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 at an awards ceremony held in Monte Carlo’s Salle des Etoiles. Hamdi was picked from among the 49 country finalists vying for the title across 47 countries, each of whom had already been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home countries.
Turkish-born Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in upstate New York in 2005 and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt two years later. Less than six years after launch it is the best-selling yogurt brand in the US with annual sales approaching US$1bn. Chobani has 3,000 employees and operates the largest yogurt factory in the world selling its products to Australia and the UK as well as the US.
Rodrigo Herrera, CEO and Chairman of Genomma Lab Internacional and Chairman of the judging panel said, “Hamdi personifies the entrepreneurial spirit and is a real role model for any aspiring entrepreneur. The judges were impressed by his courage and perseverance.”
Hamdi Ulukaya said, “I’m delighted and honored to receive this award and I would like to dedicate this to our fans, employees, local communities and health professional friends. Without them, none of our successes would have been possible.”
“The Czech winner František Piškanin with his company HOPI did an excellent job representing the Czech Republic at this year’s world final. He captivated the judging panel with his story that combined difficult beginnings, the brilliant ideas that led to his success and his effort to build a strong family business,” says Magdalena Soucek, Country Managing Partner of Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic.
“It was a life experience and learning experience at the same time. Freedom in business is a wonderful thing. Again, I was convinced that anyone with an idea has a chance. We don't look at business as being confined by the borders of the Czech Republic; we find the courage to look at business globally,” says Czech winner František Piškanin of his experience at the world final.
Jim Turley, Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, said, “Over the past 26 years, entrepreneurs have done more than any other group to stimulate innovation, job creation and prosperity during both periods of growth and in more challenging economic conditions. Hamdi epitomizes the vision and determination that set entrepreneurs apart and is very worthy of the title Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013.”
Mark Weinberger, a new Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, concludes, “Although Hamdi is truly an inspiring World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013, the 49 women and men whom we honored tonight and the thousands of entrepreneurs who enter this program every year are all winners. Now more than ever, we must acknowledge, celebrate and learn from these remarkable people.”
Broadcast coverage and an interview with the winner will be available to download for broadcast and online use at: https://broadcast.ey.com/stories/7552
When it comes to making yogurt, Turkish-born entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya has the magic touch. Chobani Greek Yogurt, which he launched in 2007, is already the best-selling brand of yogurt in the US. Made using a centuries-old technique of straining to remove excess liquid, it comes in a wide range of flavors from plain to mango, passion fruit and strawberry banana.
Hamdi was born into a dairy-farming family in eastern Turkey, but he moved to the US in 1994 to learn English and pursue business school. He never finished business school. Instead, he started making feta cheese in upstate New York in 2002 after his father visited and complained about the quality of cheese on sale.
Three years later, Hamdi bought a closed-down yogurt factory, despite being advised against it by friends, and founded his company Chobani. He started out with five employees and it took a year and a half to develop the product. In 2009, Hamdi signed a major deal with leading US grocery wholesaler Costco and today Chobani’s annual sales are approaching US$1b. It has a workforce of 3,000 and sells its products in Australia and the UK, as well as in the US. Chobani’s newest US manufacturing facility is the largest yogurt factory in the world.
As an immigrant, Hamdi believes in embracing change and improving communities. So, 10% of Chobani’s profits are donated to the company’s charitable foundation, Shepherd’s Gift Foundation. The company is an official sponsor of the US Olympic team and its corporate philosophy is “Nothing but good.”
If you ever do your shopping in a supermarket, then most of your items will have been delivered by František Piškanin’s firm. And yet when František began his business activities he had nothing. He opened a small grocery shop in Karlovy Vary in 1992. He had the idea of providing comprehensive quality services for supranational chains and Czech and international production firms with the support of his lifelong mentor, Mr Houdek. These days the HOPI logistics and transport group is one of the largest players in Central and Eastern Europe, employs more than 3,300 people in the CR, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, and is planning to start business in Austria. This is a purely Czech family firm that, in František’s words, has a Czech heart and an international body. It provides its comprehensive logistics services to the most important international and Czech companies, including P&G, Makro, Metro, Unilever, Billa, Tesco, Ahold, Kraft Foods, Nestle, Agrofert, Bohemia Sekt, Nutricia, Emco and many others. At present it is consolidating its no. 1 position in Central Europe in the logistics of frozen products by constructing further freezer plants. During the time it has existed HOPI has contributed almost CZK 5 billion to the state budget. HOLLANDIA and Agro Otročín also belong to the HOPI group. František is pleased that his sons also work for the company. He believes that a family approach, combined with unique knowhow, is the competitive advantage enjoyed by HOPI. In his free time he remains active and devotes himself to his foundation, lectures, is a member of many associations, and enjoys riding a motorbike, tractor and rallying. Don´t worry, be HOPI.
The independent judging panel was a distinguished group of former Entrepreneur Of The Year Winners. The judging panel was chaired by Rodrigo Herrera of Genomma Lab Internacional (Mexico). Joining him were: