Chairman, Rich Products Corporation
As Chairman of Rich Products Corporation, Robert E. Rich Jr. (Bob) has led the company to more than $4 billion in worldwide sales revenue. Rich’s continues to build business in new markets with cutting-edge management practices, high business ethics, and customer service standards, which have earned Bob distinction as one of the nation’s most prominent business leaders.
His dynamic leadership was recognized with an appointment as Chairman of the U.S. based Grocery Manufacturers Association in 1999 and selection as a National Restaurant Association “Diplomat” in May 2000.
Other noteworthy distinctions include his 1996 induction into the Frozen Food Industry Hall of Fame, making his father, Robert E. Rich, and him the first father-and-son team to be so honored. That same year, Refrigerated and Frozen Foods magazine selected Bob as its “Executive of the Year.” In 2017, Bob and his father were inducted into the inaugural class of the Western New York Business Hall of Fame and joined a group of Buffalo’s finest leaders celebrated for leaving an indelible mark on Buffalo Niagara.
Bob is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association Hall of Achievement, the National Frozen Food Hall of Fame, the Prepared Food Hall of Fame and the ENACTUS (Entrepreneurial, Action, Us; formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise [SIFE]) Hall of Fame. Also, the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame. In 1999, he became the second angler ever to be inducted into the South Florida Fishing Hall of Fame.
In addition to his Rich Products leadership, Bob has played an important role in professional baseball in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1983, Bob purchased the then-struggling Double-A Buffalo Bisons professional franchise, in order to keep professional baseball in the Queen City.
In 1984, he realized another major goal when he purchased baseball’s Triple-A Wichita Aeros and moved the American Association franchise to Buffalo.
In 1988, Bob cut the ribbon on Buffalo’s new downtown ballpark, celebrating the fulfillment of a dream to build a new home for the Bisons and setting the franchise on a course that has since included two league championships and annual minor league attendance supremacy.
He serves as President and CEO of Bison Baseball Inc., Northwest Arkansas Baseball Inc., and Morgantown Baseball Inc. He is also the past Commissioner of the National Baseball Congress, an organization of amateur and semi-pro baseball leagues operating in the U.S. and Canada.
Bob’s path to success – in business, sports and the community – began at the Nichols School in Buffalo, where he was a football quarterback and a standout goaltender in the prep school’s illustrious hockey history.
After Nichols, Bob continued to show his prowess at Williams College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963 and served as co-captain of the hockey team during his senior year.
After graduation from Williams, he returned to Buffalo and broke into professional hockey as a backup goalie for the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League, before a try out for the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team. After active duty with the U.S. National Guard, Bob joined Rich Products in 1964 and received a complete introduction to the company in the role of President of Rich Products of Canada, a start-up subsidiary. While working, he returned to school to earn his MBA with honors from the prestigious University of Rochester Simon School of Business in 1969. His next position at Rich’s was Vice President of Sales and Marketing, a new department for the company that he started and staffed.
Over time, Bob assumed the positions held by his father and mentor, Robert E. Rich. Bob Rich was named President of Rich’s in 1978 and Chairman of the company in 2006.
AWARDS & HONORS
Throughout his distinguished career, Bob has received numerous awards for his business, community and professional sports endeavors.
In May 2000, Bob was inducted into the prestigious National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation College of Diplomats, joining a select group of leaders who exemplify the industry’s finest.
In addition, Bob received the Buffalo News’ Citizen of the Year Award in 1983, and in 1984 he was named the Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year by the University of Buffalo School of Management along with the Buffalo/Niagara Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year, sharing the latter distinction with his father, who previously received the honor. Other awards include:
- Canisius College Distinguished Citizen Achievement Award, 1991
- Watson Rogers Award, 2002 (The Association of Sales & Marketing Agencies)
- Global Champion of ENACTUS Award
- America’s Free Enterprise Legend Award, 2001 (ENACTUS)
- New York State Governor’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council’s Rita Webb Citizens Drug Fighter of the Year Award
- Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award, 2009 (National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation)
- Business First Most Influential Business Leader in Western New York in 2012
- Outstanding Business Leader in Western New York – inaugural award based on survey of WBEN radio listeners in 2015
- Distinguished Fellow Award (Cleveland Clinic 1921 Society) in November 2015
Two years after arriving on the Triple-A baseball scene, Bob was named the 1986 American Association Executive of the Year. In 1988, Sporting News magazine tabbed him Minor League Executive of the Year.
Bob is also a recipient of the Peter Medaille Medal from Medaille College and six honorary doctorates – from St. Bonaventure University, Niagara University, D’Youville College, Johnson and Wales University, Hilbert College and Canisius College. In addition, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Rochester.
On June 8, 2014, Bob delivered the commencement address at the University of Rochester’s William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration graduation ceremony. He addressed graduates after receiving the Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Medal, the university’s highest recognition of personal achievement, for his contributions for more than 45 years after graduating from the Simon School’s MBA program.
BOARDS & LEADERSHIP
Today, Bob is active with several corporate boards and organizations. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Trustees of the Cleveland Clinic and Emeritus Trustee of the International Game Fish Association.
Bob is a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Leadership Council. He co-founded and chaired Western New York United Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the annual Greater Niagara BassEye Celebrity Challenge with his wife, Mindy. As a signature event in Buffalo, it has raised more than $1.3 million for cystic fibrosis research. He is also a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, United States Squash Association, Billfish Foundation and the United States Masters Swimming – Florida Gold Coast Chapter. Additionally, he is a life member of Distinguished Order of Zerocrats and National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association Honorable Order of Golden Penguins.
Bob is a past Chairman of the Uniform Code Council, past Vice Chairman of the International Game Fish Association, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Development Committee and ENACTUS. He is also a past Chairman of the National Frozen Food Association (NFFA), being one of the youngest ever to head the NFFA leadership group, which represents more than 1,600 distributors, brokers and manufacturers.
Bob is a trustee and director of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and on the Trustee Council for the University of Rochester. He is a Conti Professor at Penn State University and a Conoco Phillips Lecturer at the George HW Bush Library at Texas A&M.
Bob has served as a co-producer to several theatrical productions on Broadway with Mindy as part of the Rich Entertainment Group.
An avid writer and sportsman, Bob has written and published the following books:
- Fish Fights: A Hall of Fame Quest, introduction by Sandy Moret (2001)
- The Fishing Club: Brothers and Sisters of the Angle, foreword by Jay Cassell (2006)
- Secrets from the Delphi Café: Unlocking The Code to Happiness, co-written by Scott Friedman, with Mike Pehanich (2006)
- The Right Angle: Tales from a Sporting Life (2011)
- Looking Through Water (2015)
To learn more about Bob’s books, please visit www.facebook.com/BobRichBooks