In accepting a recent award for World Entrepreneur of the Year, Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya observed that in growing the company, he never thought about how it was seen by others.
“We just kept busy in the factory doing what we do,” he said. “But being honored like this is special.”
The company, founded in South Edmeston in 2005, now brings in about $1 billion a year in sales.
Ulukaya was talking about being named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year at a June 8 ceremony in Monte Carlo. It’s the most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs, according to the company media release. It encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement.
Selected from a group of more than 50 country-winners from across the globe for this honor, Ulukaya was recognized for his “disruptive innovation to bring wholesome food to the masses; regeneration of a long-stagnant category; financial success; and personal commitment to building a world-class brand,” according to a media release from Ernst & Young, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award from Ernst & Young and in the company of such amazing fellow business leaders from around the world,” Ulukaya said in the release. “What began as just my personal commitment to make delicious and nutritious Greek Yogurt accessible to everyone has turned into a 3,000-person-strong company serving three markets around the world. I look forward to our next 3,000 employees and sharing our food philosophy with even more consumers as we expand into new markets.”
Chobani communications manager Lindsay Kos said the company was founded in 2005 when Ulukaya noticed a former Kraft yogurt plant was for sale in South Edmeston. With the help of a Small Business Administration loan, he bought it and started with five employees, bringing a yogurt master from Turkey. They worked on the formula recipe for 1½ years to perfect it. Today the produce is the top selling Greek Yogurt in United States and is sold in the United Kingdom and Australia. in 2012 sales were about $1 billion.