(Daily Beast) -- Hamdi Ulukaya is the model American immigrant success story.
In 2005, the Turkish-born Kurdish entrepreneur purchased a defunct Kraft foods plant in upstate New York with an $800,000 loan from the Small Business Administration. In just a few years, his Chobani yogurt went from selling a few containers at a Long Island kosher grocery to being the No. 1 selling yogurt brand in the country with annual revenue topping $1.5 billion. In addition to employing more than 2,000 people directly—all of whom earn above minimum wage and enjoy generous benefits—the company purchases 4 million pounds of milk from American farmers every day.
Ulukaya dotes on his employees like a parent. “To me, there are two kinds of people in this world,” he told The New York Times. “The people who work at Chobani and the people who don’t.” Earlier this year, he gave shares amounting to 10 percent of Chobani to his workers; a rare move for a CEO to make after the value of his highly profitable company has been established. Chobani is also a corporate sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team. Not bad for a Turkish guy selling Greek yogurt—that in itself a subtle rebuke to centuries of enmity between the two countries.
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